symphony Fall 2013 n $6.95
s y m p h o n y
The Magazine of
The League of American Orchestras
The Art Of Getting toYes
Communicating Orchestras’ Public Value House of Gergiev: Can the Mariinsky Achievement Be Replicated in the West? Orchestras Go to the Movies—and the Opera What’s Up in Pops Fall 2013
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symphony fa l l 2 0 1 3
t’s no secret that the news about orchestras hasn’t been great lately. For a couple of weeks this fall, stories about lockouts, bankruptcies, strikes, you name it, hit what felt like every day—and that was on top of the shutdown of the federal government. Orchestras face a lot of challenges now, and these are trying times for anyone who cares about the art form. But the simple fact is that many orchestras are balancing the books while meeting high artistic standards. Many are experimenting with new concert formats, fresh ways to connect with audiences, repertoire that fuses the classical and the contemporary. Others are finding success by adhering to traditional practices. This isn’t to shortchange the very real challenges that orchestras face. But orchestras are proving innovative and resourceful: When the Philadelphia Orchestra’s concert at the season opening of Carnegie Hall was cancelled due to a strike by stagehands seeking jurisdiction over the hall’s new educational wing, the orchestra quickly scheduled a free concert that night in Philadelphia. A richly diverse crowd of 2,500 showed up. Our cover story relates to a topic that has seized headlines: negotiations between labor and management. In a frank discussion, League President and CEO Jesse Rosen speaks with George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Cohen personally mediated high-profile disputes in professional sports, including the NFL and the NBA. Prior to arriving at the FMCS in 2009, he was general counsel of the American Federation of Musicians and some of its locals, where he represented musicians in collective bargaining with orchestras; he was also the AF of M’s chief negotiator in several landmark negotiations. Cohen can fairly be described as having seen it all. And if he thinks successful negotiations are possible, then successful negotiations are possible.
The Magazine of The L e a g u e o f Am e r i c a n O r c h e s t r a s
symphony®, the award-winning quarterly magazine of the League of American Orchestras, discusses issues critical to the orchestra community and communicates to the American public the value and importance of orchestras and the music they perform. editor in chief Robert Sandla
senior editor Chester Lane
Managing Editor Jennifer Melick
Assistant Editor Ian VanderMeulen
Editorial Intern Eesha Patkar
Production and design Michael Rush Manager
Advertising director Stephen Alter
Advertising associate Samara Ungar Publisher Jesse Rosen Design/Art Direction Jeff Kibler McMurry/TMG Washington, DC Printed by Dartmouth Printing Co. Hanover, NH
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The Diversity & Inclusion Resource Center
Whether you’re talking about generational perspectives, disabilities, ethnic or religious difference, or gender identification, it’s easy to see that communities are rapidly changing. Learning to communicate effectively – and respectfully – is one of the most important things we can do for staff, audiences, community members, artists, and beyond. The League’s Diversity and Inclusion Resource Center, made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provides League members with a range of free resources that offer practical guidance and tools to address these areas of focus. Learn more by visiting americanorchestras.org.
symphony fa l l 2 0 1 3
T he M aga z ine of T he L eague of A merican O rchestras
2 Prelude by Robert Sandla 6 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events
14 Critical Questions How can we make contract negotiations more successful for all? Jesse Rosen speaks with George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
22 Conference Follow-Up The League’s National Conference tackled the pressing issues of today while “Imagining 2023.”
Sonic Youth Inside reports from three players in the new National Youth Orchestra of the USA. by Ánnika Jenkins, Tom Jeon, and Julia Popham
18 At the League One of the best ways for orchestras to communicate their public value is through storytelling, and the League has new resources to help. by Heidi Waleson
Screening Rooms The film-with-orchestra trend encompasses silent movies, today’s hits, and everything in between. by Michael Stugrin
Nights at the Opera With opera in the concert hall, what you hear is the top concern. by Thomas May
Forever and Ever… Handel’s Messiah, explored anew by orchestras. by Donald Rosenberg
Courtesy San Francisco Symphony
House of Gergiev The story of how the Mariinsky Theatre wound up at the center of Russian culture. by Jennifer Melick
44 2013 Guide to Symphony Pops Advertisers 69 Advertiser Index 72 Coda Genre-defying jazz bassist/singer/composer Esperanza Spalding at the symphony. Throughout this issue, text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources that can be accessed by visiting SymphonyOnline l at symphony.org.
70 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund
about the cover
With orchestra negotiations front and center in the news, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service’s George Cohen shares his insights on the process. See story, page 14. Cover image by Rene Mansi/Getty Images
SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry The
has been named director of human resources at the San Francisco Symphony.
The Amarillo (Tex.) Symphony has appointed music director.
JACOMO RAFAEL BAIROS
has been named general manager of the Cleveland Orchestra.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has appointed DANIEL BECKLEY vice president and general manager. STEVE Barlament HAMILTON has been named vice president of finance, and HOLLY C. JOHNSON vice president of development. Oregon East Symphony, based in Pendleton, has named BEAU BENSON music director.
LIZ BENTLEY has been named director of development at the Amarillo (Tex.) Symphony.
The American Composers Orchestra has appointed DEREK BERMEL artistic director. At the New Haven (Conn.) Symphony Orchestra,
NIKKI BESITKO has been named development director, and LINDSEY CHRISTIANI marketing manager. Jeff Curry
hese past four days in St. Louis have been for me a time to recharge, press the reset button, and find a zone where possibilities can be explored and common ground can be found,” said Wayne Brown, director of music and opera at the National Endowment for the Arts, at the closing session of the League of American Orchestras’ 2013 National Conference. Brown captured the prevailing mood at the Conference, which took as its theme Imagining 2023 and considered the future of orchestras through provocative sessions with futurists, orchestra experts, and thought leaders. Nearly 1,000 orchestra professionals and volunteers attended the Conference, which ran June 18-20 in St. Louis, Missouri and was hosted by the St. Louis Symphony. Delegates tackled today’s challenges with inspiring sessions on reaching new audiences; trends in financing, mergers, creative partnerships, and technology; and institutional diversity. Best practices in afterschool and health and wellness programs were showcased by orchestras that received Getty Education and Community League President and CEO Jesse Rosen (left) and Investment Grants from the League. Wayne Brown (right), director of music and opera at the National Endowment for the Arts, address The Conference was preceded by delegates at the League’s 2013 National Conference two days of intensive seminars on in St. Louis. such topics as governance, leadership development, and patron growth. Pre-Conference sessions also included a free, threeday seminar on the Foundations of Collective Bargaining presented by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for musicians, staff, and board members. Gold Baton awards were given to Don Randel, president emeritus of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and to the League’s Volunteer Council, in recognition of the Council’s 50 years of strengthening orchestras. The Helen M. Thompson Award for exceptional leadership was presented to Jennifer Barlament, at the time executive director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. (In August, the Cleveland Orchestra announced Barlament’s appointment as general manager.) Volunteer Council President Helen Shaffer presented an $80,000 donation to the League from the Council to mark its 50th anniversary. Nineteen Conference American orchestras were honored with 2012-2013 Resources ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming. Toolkits, videos, Music played a central role. Music Director David presentations, and additional Robertson led the St. Louis Symphony in works resources from multiple of Mozart, Wagner, Sibelius, and John Adams. sessions at the League’s 2013 Robertson gave a master class, and took part in an Conference are available in-depth interview by League President and CEO at www.americanorchestras. Jesse Rosen. Other performers included the St. Louis org/conferences-meetings/ Symphony Youth Orchestra and members of the conference-2013. symphony’s In Unison Chorus, which is drawn from the community. Jeff Curry
has been appointed director of education at the St. Louis Symphony.
Symphony in C (Camden, N.J.) has appointed president.
Ohio’s Lima Symphony Orchestra has named ELIZABETH BROWN executive director.
The Tallahassee (Fla.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed darko butorac music director. DONATO CABRERA has been named music director of the California Symphony in Walnut Creek.
The Madison-based Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has appointed MARK CANTRELL executive director.
has been named director of the Nashville Symphony Chorus.
CityMusic Cleveland has appointed AVNER music director.
The Muncie (Ind.) Symphony Orchestra has named artistic director.
The Hartford (Conn.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed JUSTIN ELLIS director of artistic operations.
Artis–Naples, home to the Naples (Fla.) Philharmonic and The Baker Museum, has appointed DAVID FILNER vice president of artistic operations, and JAMES DALLAS orchestra personnel manager.
has been appointed music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.
The Ann Arbor (Mich.) Symphony Orchestra has announced the election of J. ROBERT GATES as president.
Musical Chairs has been named music director of the Elgin (Ill.) Symphony Orchestra.
The Charlotte (N.C.) Symphony has appointed vice president of development.
San Francisco’s Bay Area Rainbow Symphony has named DAWN HARMS music director.
As the fall season got underway, contract negotiations between musicians and management had come to a halt at the Minnesota Orchestra, where musicians have been locked out for more than a year. On October 1, Music Director Osmo Vänskä resigned as music director, Aaron Jay Kernis resigned as director of the orchestra’s Composer Institute, and two November concerts at Carnegie Hall were cancelled. The impasse followed a flurry of efforts over the summer to reach an agreement, including bringing in former Senator George Mitchell—who helped broker a 1998 peace accord in Northern Ireland—as mediator. In late summer, a $50 million renovation to Orchestra Hall was completed, and musicians of the orchestra performed in a concert at Lake Harriet Band Shell. The musicians also were set to present several more concerts on their own during the fall, including two at Ted Mann Concert Hall in early October. Meanwhile, several orchestras have signed agreements with musicians. The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new four-year agreement with musicians raises wages by 1 percent a year and includes a housing allowance, new contributions to their retirement plan, and restructured healthcare. Orchestra Iowa, based in Cedar Rapids, inked a three-year contract with a 21 percent increase in the minimum base wage for musicians. In September, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra ratified a three-year contract that includes an 11 percent increase in annual base salary for tenured musicians over that in the previous contract, and flexibility in travel and related work rules. Two orchestras signed contracts a year ahead of schedule. In June, the Kansas City Symphony signed a three-year contract effective July 1, 2014, which includes increases in base salary for musicians, as well as modest increases in health insurance coverage, retirement plans, and seniority pay. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s three-year contract, also signed in June, includes a 4 percent increase for 2013-14, a wage freeze in 2014-15, and a 3 percent increase in 2015-16; the new contract supersedes the current contract, which included 9.7 percent pay cuts. In September, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and its musicians agreed on a two-year contract through August 2015; terms include a base salary increase of 1 percent in 2013 and 2 percent in 2014. The Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s three-year contract follows a 2012-13 season that had to be truncated while the orchestra stabilized its finances. The contract includes pay cuts for musicians but an increasing number of performances from years one to three. In Kentucky, the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra is operating under a one-year contract through June 30, 2014, allowing the 2013-14 season to proceed after negotiations begun in April 2012 stalled. Also operating under a one-year contract is the Nashville Symphony, where musicians agreed in August to 15 percent pay cuts. The Nashville contract runs through July 31, 2014. Earlier this summer, the orchestra avoided a foreclosure auction of Schermerhorn Symphony Center after receiving a gift from board member Martha Ingram. And in British Columbia, Canada, the Prince George Symphony announced a new agreement that did not offer raises but also did not implement cuts that had been feared. americanorchestras.org
has been elected president of California’s Santa Rosa Symphony.
has been appointed director of public relations at Utah Symphony | Opera.
The Portland (Me.) Symphony Orchestra has named NORMAN HUYNH to the newly created post of assistant conductor and community liaison. TRUDI JACKSON has been appointed executive director of the Bellevue (Wash.) Youth Symphony Orchestra.
The Little Orchestra Society in New York City has named JAMES JUDD music director. ROGER KALIA has been appointed assistant conductor of the Charlotte (N.C.) Symphony.
The Paducah (Ky.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed MADELINE ANNA HART marketing and education manager.
Greater Bridgeport (Conn.) Youth Orchestras has named ANNA KEPE-HAAS executive director.
MICHAEL KERR has been elected chairman of the Board of Directors of California’s Pacific Symphony.
At the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Principal Second Violin KYU-YOUNG KIM has assumed additional responsibilities as senior director of artistic planning.
The Seattle Symphony has named STILIAN KIROV to the Doulas F. King Associate Conductor post. Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival has appointed ESKA LASKUS operations and education manager, MELISSA HILKER chorus personnel manager, and JOHN RYAN orchestra personnel manager. ANDREW LITTON , who
was named artistic advisor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 2012, has assumed the title of music director.
New England Conservatory Associate Director of Orchestras DAVID LOEBEL Litton has taken on additional duties as music director of the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. NEC Director of Orchestras HUGH WOLFF has been named resident conductor of the Youth Philharmonic.
Laura Jackson and Michael Gandolfi work on Chesapeake: Summer of 1814, commissioned to mark the bicentennial of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Orchestras might be feeling more patriotic than usual these days. To mark the bicentennial in 2014 of the Star-Spangled Banner, the Reno Philharmonic commissioned Michael Gandolfi’s Chesapeake: Summer of 1814 and premiered it in March 2013 under Music Director Laura Jackson. Jackson also created the Star-Spangled Music Foundation to raise awareness for the bicentennial. In November, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will give the world premiere of Jake Runestad’s Dreams of the Fallen on its Veterans Day concert. The latter piece incorporates poetry by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the Kansas City Symphony, WILLIAM M. LYONS has succeeded SHIRLEY HELZBERG as chair of the Board of Directors. has been appointed concertmaster of the Racine Symphony (Wis.) Orchestra.
The Fort Worth (Tex.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed JEFFREY MISTRI vice president of artistic administration. SUSAN MIVILLE has been appointed director of education at the Austin (Tex.) Symphony.
Chattanooga (Tenn.) Symphony & Opera has
Orchestrated Funk Singer/songwriters Janelle Monáe and Erykah Badu are best known for R&B, hip-hop, and funk, not to mention collaborations with musicians like Prince, Andre 3000, and Big Boi. But this spring each took the stage with equally high-profile but less typical collaborators: symphony orchestras. In May, Monáe sang at benefit concerts for the Chicago Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony. In Chicago, with her trademark tuxedo and pouf
hair-do, Monáe performed a wideranging program of songs like her own “Q.U.E.E.N.” as well as Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” Prince’s “Take Me With U,” and the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back.” In San Francisco, Monáe jumped off the stage and danced with the audience, to the delight of patrons, and posed with SFS President Sakurako Fisher. In New York, Badu capped off her 2012-13 artist residency at the Brooklyn Philharmonic with two performances at the Brooklyn
FIRE SWING JAZZ
Put some in your Pops
Add some to your Pops
with Pops Sensation
with Juno Award Winner
Academy of Music featuring the world premiere of a “hip-hop orchestral fusion” based on her album New Amerykah, Part I, arranged by Brooklyn resident Ted Hearne. The two concerts, subtitled “You’re Causing a Disturbance,” played to sold-out houses of fans of Badu and the Philharmonic.
up your Pops
with Clarinet Phenom
ennettO’s TS O DaveICB AN R
Janelle Monáe (center) at the San Francisco Symphony, May 2013. Below: Erykah Badu with Brooklyn Philharmonic Concertmaster Deborah Buck
Two free outdoor concerts attracted thousands of Cincinnatians to Washington Park to welcome the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s new music director, Louis Langrée, at right.
named HOLLY MULCAHY concertmaster, and KRISTEN HOLRITZ principal flute. The Winston-Salem (N.C.) Symphony appointed as its first full-time education and community engagement director. JESSICA MUNCH-DITTMAR
has been named concertmaster of the Eugene (Ore.) Symphony.
J. SAMUEL PARKHILL has been elected president of the Portland (Me.) Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees.
California’s East Bay Performing Arts, parent organization of the Oakland East Bay Symphony, has appointed STEVEN PAYNE executive director.
Follow the Leaders
To meet the needs of today’s young arts professionals, the League of American Orchestras has redesigned its long-running Orchestra Leadership Academy Program. The new Emerging Leaders Program will identify, train, and support arts professionals under age 35 who show outstanding potential to influence the orchestra field. Rather than move from orchestra to orchestra during a year-long fellowship as previously, participants in the new program will remain at their home orchestra for two years, learning through mentorship from their executive director or board chair as well as an outside expert, attending virtual meetings, visiting other orchestras, attending three in-person gatherings per year, developing and/ or leading a project to support their own orchestra, and contributing Next Generation content for the League’s National Conference. The curriculum, led by executive-training guru John McCann, will focus on leadership under stress, near- and long-term priorities, and responding to multiple stakeholders. A modest stipend allows participants to pursue additional learning opportunities. The program begins in January 2014; to learn more, visit americanorchestras.org. americanorchestras.org
With arts reporting at traditional publications continuing to face the budget ax, the Music Critics Association of North America created a new web journal, Classical Voice North America. The site, which rolled out in September, will offer Association members and other music journalists a platform for features, reviews, interviews, videos, and everything in between. Also in September, former Miami Herald music critic Lawrence A. Johnson launched New York Classical Review, adding to his other classical-review sites covering Boston, Chicago, and South Florida.
has been appointed executive director of the Houston-based orchestra Mercury.
BRIAN A. RITTER
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has named JAMES ROE president and chief executive officer, and SUSAN STUCKER chief operating officer. Houston’s River Oaks Chamber Orchestra has appointed JAMES ROWLAND executive director.
Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was the place to be in early August, as crowds turned out for LumenoCity, two free outdoor concerts by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by a light show projected onto Music Hall. The live illuminated concerts—a community-wide celebration welcoming Louis Langrée as music director—attracted 35,000 people to the revitalized Washington Park, opposite Music Hall. Visuals were provided by the design and branding firm Landor Associates; the program, led by Langrée, included 40 minutes of music by Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Cop land, Beethoven, and Ravel. There were also Broadway and film selections performed by the Cincinnati Pops, led by John Morris Russell, with members of the May Festival Chorus, dancers from Cincinnati Ballet’s CBII, and singers from Cincinnati Opera. In late September, the CSO posted the first weekly installment of footage from the event, Also Sprach Zarathustra, with the final video, of Ravel’s Bolero, set to go up in October.
The Springfield (Mo.) Symphony Orchestra has named KYLE WILEY PICKETT music director.
Cincinnati Welcomes #lumenocity
At the New York Pops, MELISSA L. PELKEY has been appointed marketing manager, KATHRYN RUDOLPH education and office coordinator, and LINDSEY WARFORD director of development.
The Columbus (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra has named JEAN-SEBASTIEN ROY concertmaster.
ELIZABETH SCHURGIN has been named executive director of the DC Youth Orchestra Program.
has been appointed executive director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras.
Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, based in St. Paul, Minn., has named MARK RUSSELL SMITH artistic director.
DANIEL STEWART has been named music director of California’s Santa Cruz County Symphony.
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra has appointed SUSAN STOVEALL director of marketing and public relations. has been named executive director of the Springfield (Mass.) Symphony Orchestra.
Florida’s Sarasota Orchestra has appointed ANU TALI music director.
At the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, headquartered in Marietta, CHRISTOPHER THIBDEAU has been named creative director and associate conduc- Tali tor, and KATHERINE HOLLAND general manager of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has appointed
JEFF TYZIK principal pops conductor, DEMARRE McGILL principal flute, and DAVID COOPER princi-
JAMES S. WELCH JR. has been elected president of the Louisville Orchestra Board of Directors.
The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, serving Fargo, N.D. and Moorhead, Minn., has appointed CHRISTOPHER ZIMMERMAN music director.
Montreal Mini-Marathon Over two days in August, Crowds turned out in Montreal for “Cool Montreal’s cultural district Classical Journey” concerts this August. was filled with the sounds of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Rossini, and Schubert, as more than 20,000 people turned out for “A Cool Classical Journey.” Hosted by Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the event encompassed 30 symphonic, chamber, and family concerts, each lasting 45 minutes. The OSM and Music Director Kent Nagano gave six performances at Maison Symphonique de Montréal, while other concerts, many held simultaneously, took place at Cinquième Salle and the Studio Theatre and Musée contemporain de Montréal. There were also free instrument-making workshops and audience-musician meetups. OSM Chief Executive Officer Madeleine Careau declared, “We’re thrilled that Montrealers responded in such big numbers and demonstrated the enthusiasm, curiosity, and festive spirit for which they’re known.” It was the second year for the August event, which took place as the OSM prepared for its 80th season.
Chinh Phan, CatchLightGroup
The Houston Symphony’s 100th-birthday concert took place in June at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Houston Celebrates Centennial Year The Houston Symphony launched its 2013-14 centennial season with two free events: a 100th-Birthday Concert on June 21 led by Associate Conductor Robert Franz, held exactly 100 years after the first Houston Symphony performance; and a 12-hour Day of Music on July 13 that celebrated Houston’s diverse music culture with 30 different local musical groups taking part. Guest artists this season include soprano Renée Fleming, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Joshua Bell, former Music Director Lawrence Foster, and former Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, who will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand. Actress Sigourney Weaver will host the season-finale concert. The Houston Symphony will also perform the U.S. premiere of La Triste Historia, featuring a symphonic work by Mexican composer Juan Trigos and an animated film by Ben Young Mason. In September, the Symphony was set to publish a 160-page commemorative book. As the season concludes, Music Director Hans Graf will step down in May to usher in the leadership of Colombian-born Andrés Orozco-Estrada.
Benjamin Britten, who would have turned a hundred years old on November 22, is the focus of multiple celebrations this year with concerts, operas, recordings—even a stamp issued by the U.K.’s Royal Mail. An outdoor production of Peter Grimes, “Grimes-on-the-Beach,” took place in June in Aldeburgh, England, on the exact spot where the opera is set. The performance was part of the “Britten 100” global celebration, coordinated by the Britten-Pears Foundation, which created a website with a worldwide concert schedule and an interactive audio sampler. Among the orchestras marking the Britten anniversary with performances of the War Requiem are the Seattle Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Also on offer in 2013-14 are Midsummer Night’s Dream (Metropolitan Opera), the “Spring” Symphony and Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (New York Philharmonic), and—at Carnegie Hall on the centenary date of November 22—the St. Louis Symphony’s concert performance of Peter Grimes. Florida’s New World Symphony has co-commissioned artist/filmmaker Tal Rosner with a video work to accompany the “Four Sea Interludes” from Peter Grimes, to premiere in October at the symphony’s New World Center; that video will also be featured in performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony.
Benjamin Britten on Aldeburgh Beach in 1959
League Names Stacy Margolis VP for Development Stacy Wilson Margolis has been appointed vice president for development at the League of American Orchestras. Margolis, who took up duties in early September, served most recently as director of development at the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City, Stacy Margolis overseeing annual fundraising efforts and a $50 million capital campaign for the creation of OSL’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Prior to assuming that post in 2008 Margolis spent six years as executive director of the London Symphony Orchestra’s American Foundation, with responsibility for the LSO’s U.S.-based fundraising. She has held development posts at the New York Public Library and the New York-based Theater Development Fund. Margolis holds degrees in music and marketing management from Syracuse University and attended the master’s program in arts administration at Columbia University. “Stacy Margolis is a gifted fundraising leader with a remarkable record of accomplishment,” said League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. “She will help the League implement effective strategies for growing our development efforts, while overseeing new initiatives to help support the critical programs and services we offer our member orchestras.”
Innovations in Education
This year, the Curtis Institute of Music inaugurates two online courses—Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, with Jonathan Biss, and From the Repertoire: Western Music History through Performance, with Jonathan Coopersmith and David Ludwig— both presented with Coursera. The Juilliard School will launch Juilliard e-Learning with four music courses for grades K-12, tailored to national music education standards. Juilliard is also looking to develop synchronous music instruction and virtual masterclasses. The Eastman School of Music is using a $1 million gift from Paul R. Judy to establish the Paul R. Judy Center for Applied Research as a testing ground for alternative ensemble and business models. Judy is chairman of the Chicago Philharmonic Society and founder of Eastman’s Orchestra Musician Forum and its website for musicians, Polyphonic.org.
Britten at 100
Two Hours of Comedy and Music! Two Mime Superstars Dan Kamin— as The Classical Clown. Charlie Chaplin— in two film classics.
“One of the most delightful and engaging shows for symphony audiences of all ages.” — Don Reinhold, Executive Director Wichita Symphony Orchestra
See for yourself at www.dankamin.com
Comecdeyrtos Con (412)563-0468 firstname.lastname@example.org
Boston Welcomes Andris Nelsons
The New York String Orchestra Seminar marks its 45th year, and the 20th anniversary of violinist/conductor Jaime Laredo’s appointment as director, with two December performances led by Laredo at Carnegie Hall. Headlining a Christmas Eve concert is NYSOS alumna Bella Hristova. The December 28 performance features the Johannes String Quartet—all of whose members are NYSOS graduates—and an appearance by pianist Leon Fleisher. NYSOS’s alumni include many top chamber and orchestra players, plus such soloists as Shlomo Mintz, pictured below (at far right) with Isaac Stern, Laredo, and Pinchas Zukerman in NYSOS’s 10thanniversary concert in 1978. New York String Orchestra Seminar
On June 25, 2013, Andris Nelsons officially signed his contract as the fifteenth music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with a pen made of wood from Symphony Hall’s pre2006 concert stage. The day, decreed as “Andris Nelsons Day” by the city of Andris Nelsons throws out the first pitch at Boston’s Boston, was a gigantic welcome party Fenway Park, June 2013. introducing the 34-year-old Latvian conductor to 850 applauding BSO subscribers, musicians, board members, and press. The day ended with Nelsons throwing the first pitch at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Nelsons’s appointment is effective beginning with the 2014 season. He succeeds James Levine, who stepped down in 2011 due to health problems. Born in Riga in 1978, Nelsons began as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra, eventually becoming its music director. Since 2008, he has served as music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where his contract runs through 2014-15. Nelsons— officially music director designate through the end of this season—will conduct his first BSO performance of this season at Symphony Hall, October 18.
String Orchestra Seminar Turns 45
Tony DeSare singer/pianist
A distinctly sensuous and understated pop voice performing standards from yesterday and today, plus unique originals. “The Soundtrack of Our Lives”, Tony DeSare’s new program of contemporary standards debuting with the Houston Symphony January 2014. Featuring music by Journey, The Bee Gees, James Taylor, Michael McDonald, Prince and more.
2013/2014 symphonic appearances include: Oregon Symphony Kansas City Symphony Desert Symphony Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra
“Two parts young Sinatra to one part Billy Joel, meshed seamlessly.” —The New York Times
734.222.8030 (office) | 734.277.1008 (mobile) 2040 Tibbitts Court, Ann Arbor, MI 48105 symphony
Orchestra of St. Luke’s Launches Free Youth Program
Steinway Changes Hands In June, Steinway & Sons sold its flagship showroom, Steinway Hall on West 57th Street in Manhattan, to JDS Development Group for $46 million and is expected to vacate by late 2014. In the same month, the New York-based buyout firm Kohlberg & Co. offered to buy the company at $438 million, with a 45-day “go-shop” period that allowed it to solicit bids from other potential buyers. In mid-August, LVB—Steinway’s stock ticker on the NYSE, which stands for Ludwig van Beethoven—experienced a bidding war between Kolhberg, hedge fund firm Paulson & Co., and Samick Musical Instruments of South Korea, Steinway’s biggest shareholder. Steinway announced Paulson the winner the next day, after it outbid Samick for $512 million. Under Paulson & Co., Steinway is once again likely to go private.
The Steinway Hall showroom on West 57th Street in Manhattan
Joining the ranks of orchestras inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema program, the Orchestra of St. Luke (OSL)—in partnership with the Police Athletic League (PAL)—introduced the Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s this summer in the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City. Created to address concerns and needs for more community-building art programs in the neighborhood, the program offered fifth-graders free weekly violin lessons and choral instructions at the PAL’s summer camp. Children received training from members of OSL and performed in an end-of-summer concert on August 21 at OSL’s DiMenna Center Fifth-graders in the new Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s, with YOSL teacher Louis for Classical Music. Russo Starting this fall, it will continue as an afterschool program with two hours of stringinstrument instruction and rehearsals five days a week. OSL aims to expand into an in-school violin-coaching program, and hopes to develop YOSL into a city-wide youth orchestra within five years.
Relationships, Relationships, Relationships George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, discusses the ingredients for successful negotiations.
t its National Conference this June in St. Louis, the League hosted “Foundations of Collective Bargaining,” a seminar presented by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to standing-room-only attendance. This government agency has jurisdiction in all private labor-management disputes outside the airline and rail industries, and last year actively worked on roughly 4,500 disputes throughout the country. Over three days of sessions, Joshua Flax, commissioner for FMCS’s Boston region, and Kathleen Murray Cannon, commissioner for FMCS’s New York region, helped managers, board members, and musicians gain the skills necessary for greater effectiveness in negotiation, the goal being durable agreements that help ensure healthy communication and trust among stakeholders. Among the topics addressed were building the foundation for sustainable relationships, the importance of listening in meaningful communication, bargainingcommittee structure, and elements of a lasting agreement. The seminar, which also included problem-solving and negotiation-skills simulations, was a result of conversations between FMCS and the League that began two years ago, after FMCS Director George Cohen reached out to the League and other members of the orchestra community.
by Jesse Rosen Prior to becoming director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in 2009, Cohen served as general counsel of the American Federation of Musicians and some of its locals, for whom he represented musicians in collective bargaining with the National Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He also served as the AF of M’s chief negotiator in the landmark negotiations that resulted in the Internet Agreement of 2006. Below, I speak with Cohen about the work FMCS does to train organizations to cultivate the kind of healthy, longterm relationships that lead to successful negotiations. Jesse Rosen: First of all, tell us what the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is and what it does. George Cohen: It’s an extraordinary, unique agency of the government in the sense that it is, by act of Congress, independent of any other government agency. We are assigned an incredibly important role: we have exclusive jurisdiction in all private labor-management disputes other than the rail and airline industry. Our mission is to try to facilitate the resolution of disputes between companies and unions to avoid strikes or lockouts, or at least to minimize the economic effect of any disasters of that nature. Beyond the private sector, in approxi-
Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras
mately 20 states where there are no state mediation services, we mediate disputes involving public-sector parties including teachers, police, firefighters, and sanitation workers. Unlike virtually any other government agency, as the director I have no enforcement or regulatory authority. In large measure, that means I work at the voluntary, joint request of both parties. Federal labor law requires that any party desiring to terminate or modify an existing collective bargaining agreement must notify the FMCS thirty days before contract expiration. When that happens, we immediately assign a field mediator—we have approximately 170 mediators spread throughout the United States—from the geographical area involved. We’re constantly in contact with the parties trying to make sure they understand we’re ready, willing, and able to provide assistance. Last year, mediators were assigned to approximately 13,000 disputes and became actively engaged in about 4,500 of them. Rosen: How many disputes do you bring to resolution? Cohen: At the FMCS we have an amazingly good record. We don’t keep those sorts of data or statistics. But the proof of the pudding is simple: How often do parties ask us to come back, after we’ve helped them in round one, to help them symphony
in round two? That number is astoundingly high. I should say that unlike any other government agency, I receive, as the director, in the neighborhood of ten or more letters a month from management and unions alike thanking me for the assistance of a mediator. They tell me, without that person’s assistance they would not have had a successful resolution. That’s the truest test. Rosen: Shortly after you assumed your position you reached out to me and to others in the orchestra community. What motivated you to do that? Cohen: During the course of my role as general counsel of the AF of M, I developed an abiding interest not only in the contribution of incredibly talented professional musicians, but in the unique industry in which they perform as well. How many workplaces have only between 75 and 100 employees who work together, not only in rehearsals, not only in performances, but traveling? It’s a special working relationship, both from the perspective of the union membership and in their relationship with management staff and personnel, their relationship with the maestro, and ultimately their relationship with the board of an orchestra. My proactive outreach approach, which I brought to this job, turned into reality shortly after I assumed my position as director. I received a joint request from the Metropolitan Opera management and Local 802 of the AFM in New York City. I assisted the parties to resolution of their dispute. Shortly thereafter I received a joint request from the New York Philharmonic management and its musicians, represented by Local 802. My efforts helped achieve a collective bargaining agreement that was ratified by both parties. This led me to believe that a “how to” model could be generated that would have more uniform applicability around the country, even though I knew every round of bargaining is an event unto itself. That whetted my appetite for reviewing what was happening throughout this industry. Rosen: You have a unique vantage point as someone who has been involved in multiple sectors in collective bargaining. americanorchestras.org
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George Cohen
How would you characterize the orchestra sector as compared to other sectors you’re involved in? Cohen: The symphony orchestra world is in a very special category: the small size of the workforce; and the extraordinary nature of the work being performed. I would never in any way denigrate bluecollar working men and women—but this is a unique group of employees in terms of their education and training. These individuals are incredibly committed to seeing their professional careers advance through the successes of their orchestra. They’re individuals who believe in their hearts that they have something significant to contribute to management in terms of what will help bring about the success of that orchestra. And both groups recognize that without the orchestra musicians there can be “no product” and, conversely, without the role played by management, there will be no orchestra. Those factors alone are special. The fact that it’s all done on a Local by Local basis is another factor. On the management side you have staff people serving as management representatives, but everyone understanding that ultimately it’s the board that is responsible for the all-important financial decisions—which is yet another layer in the hierarchy that has to be dealt with. Who are the people on that board? What are their backgrounds? What do they
know about collective bargaining? Are they trying to apply the same principles to that orchestra as they do to a successful real estate venture, for example? All of those things have historically—and maybe hysterically—posed a special challenge to the world of labor-management relations. Rosen: With all of these unique attributes of symphony orchestras, how would you rank their ability to bargain successfully? Cohen: The sophisticated, nuanced problems that exist today are not amenable to resolution fifteen or twenty days before the contract expires. That means the key ingredient of all labor-management relationships is exactly that: relationships, relationships, relationships. We are really good at training parties if they feel they don’t have a good relationship—they don’t mutually respect each other, they don’t want to exchange relevant facts and information to the extent that they should and be transparent. Most important, the question is: do they want to function in a problem-solving mode? Or do they want to satisfy themselves by calling each other names and saying, “You don’t respect us and we don’t respect you”? That’s been my challenge throughout American industry in general. And it’s certainly been my challenge at orchestras. So, to provide our services early on, to help train people how to do it better, is something that I have an abiding interest in achieving. Rosen: So an orchestra could call FMCS when it’s not in the midst of negotiations and ask for the services of your mediators to help build both management and musicians’ capacities for undertaking their negotiations in a respectful, transparent, trusting way? Cohen: Absolutely. They not only can, some of them have. If orchestra folks ask for training and assistance in relationship building or joint labor-management cooperative committees, we immediately call the other side and say, “We’ve been asked by management to train their staff. We’re prepared to do that. We prefer to do that jointly. You have three choices. You can do it jointly. You can do it separately. Or you
Getting in Touch How to contact Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service. Call the district office for your own geographic area. FMCS mediators work from more than 60 field offices. See the FMCS website (http://1.usa.gov/1cH5Ag5) for the office nearest you. The FMCS’s national office: 202-606-8100. When to contact FMCS. “This doesn’t have to await the period immediately before contract expiration—it can be between negotiations,” Cohen stresses. “If people are talking to each other every six months or a year about the state of the industry and the state of the world they live in, and start sharing information and looking for recommendations or suggestions, negotiations will go more smoothly.”
could not do it at all. But we will provide that service to the other side.” We have had several situations—St. Louis comes to mind—in which I was called by both sides and we are working with the parties. We do that on a regular basis, and the almost uniform response after detailed relationship-building training is, “This has been very helpful. In fact, it has led to a more constructive problem-solving mentality, which is the key touchstone to having good collective-bargaining relationships.” Rosen: The business environment that orchestras operate in is very different today than it was twenty years ago. What have you observed about how management and unions have navigated change? Cohen: One thing my colleagues and I have observed is that any time someone claims they need major change, there is immediate resistance. That leads to one self-evident conclusion: you don’t drop bombs on people about the need for change 30 days before your contract’s due to expire, because you know the reaction you’re going to get. As the need for change develops, both sides should be apprised of the nature of the change being sought. The working men and women through their union have to be advised, be informed, be given the opportunity to question, to comment, and to get the notion that this is now a joint problem. If parties understand and agree they have a
joint problem, they are much more likely to work their way through it. Rosen: Tell me, if you can, the biggest traps people get into, or wrongheaded mistakes that they make in bargaining. Cohen: The biggest ingredient for problems in my experience has been distrust: “We do not trust what you are telling us is the situation.” If you can’t come to an understanding of the relevant facts, then the likelihood of coming to a substantive solution is zero. And to get to the same page we’re going to spend a lot of time together, not apart. You’re not the enemy and we’re not your enemy. We have to be in some notion of a partnership. Number two, what I hate to see happen is that before the parties even hand a proposal to the other side, they have drawn up their “dream” or “wish” list and designed a strategy for “winning.” “This is what we’re going to do to you in the next round of bargaining and, by God, we’ve convinced ourselves we have to do this.” Not to discuss the situation that we’re dealing with and start looking for ways to resolve it, but by handing people pieces of paper and making presentations. For example, “Unless and until we get a 33 percent reduction of salary, we’re not going to be able to reach an agreement.” That is what is known in the trade as a “non-starter.” Now, conversely from the union side, to walk in with 62 pages of revised language to an existing collective-bargaining agreement leads most managements to throw those pages in the wastebasket. Instead, people should start by saying, “We want to discuss with you the following five problems that cry out for a solution,” and get a discussion going. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s also what I call the battlefield mentality. “They’re out to get us and, by God, we fought for 35 years to get this pension and this health care benefit and a satisfactory scale arrangement, and no one’s going to take that away from us, because we’re still performing at the highest professional level. We do whatever’s asked of us. And if they can’t manage this orchestra the way they should, why should we be the victims?” That’s a very common
reaction, because people are hunkered down. Once you create a hunkered-down mentality, then each side is equally complicitous. You’ve got a battleground. Each side should respect each other’s ability to communicate before the writings and the pieces of paper get generated. That’s the model for success which I have embraced and placed high on my proactive agenda: create and build upon a mutually respectful relationship notwithstanding the strongly held competing views of the parties; the need for transparency through the exchange of relevant facts and information; the desirability of approaching bargaining with a problemsolving mentality; and, last but not least, recognizing the desirability of meeting regularly and informally in advance of contract expiration. Experience has also shown that the creation of joint labormanagement cooperative committees on such vital issues as health care, pensions, and safety and health can pave the way to maximizing successful relationships. Rosen: As a consequence of your reaching out to the League, in June we mounted a seminar produced by your team of mediators, with input provided by musicians and management. Cohen: Several years ago, you arranged a group who you thought might be interested in a presentation by me about the model. And it was made clear that the FMCS was willing, able, and prepared to provide that to any orchestra that wanted it. The same summer, I went to ICSOM [International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians] and ROPA [Regional Orchestra Players’ Association] and made similar presentations. Rosen: I would love to get your reflections on your experience with ROPA. Cohen: At the request of ROPA’s officers, FMCS was asked to make a presentation at its recent Spokane conference concerning our training capability. In response to our trainer’s presentation, we’ve gotten excellent reports back, and the indication was that ROPA orchestra musicians were going to ask for additional training. The more people become aware of what we have to offer, our experience is symphony
Collective Bargaining: Five Best Cases that they will conclude it is in their selfinterest to participate. Rosen: There’s an expectation that if ever there was a place there’d be cooperation, it would be in the arts. After all, here is a field where board members volunteer their time because they love the music, managers get into the field often because they themselves have classical training, and professional musicians are performing the music they have studied and played since childhood. Yet relationships between us are troubled. How did we get here? Cohen: Number one, based upon my years of experience, there is virtually no such thing in the history of labor management as an initial happy relationship when a company is told that its working men and women want to be represented by a union for purposes of wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. The normal reaction to that is, “Oh my God, what did we do wrong?” I’m not talking about orchestras, I’m talking about virtually any employer in any industry in America since 1935. Number two, though, is once the union is there, this is the only contractual relationship that I am aware of in which at the end of a contract term, one side cannot look at the other side and say, “Thank you, but no thank you. I didn’t like your product or I’m going to go to another seller.” Or, “I didn’t like you as a purchaser, so go get another source to buy the product from.” Absent some extraordinary circumstance, the parties must continue to live with each other. So, you have a relationship that started in the “dumper.” The $64,000 question is, going forward, what is that relationship going to be? Will the parties continue a dysfunctional relationship? Of course they can. Instead, can the parties elevate it? Of course they can. You open the newspaper and all you read about is bad relationships—strikes, lockouts, wildcats. But I know for a fact that other very important companies and unions have concluded that it is in their self-interest to have constructive, mutually respectful relationships. The model is, you start with people sitting down and saying to each other, “We americanorchestras.org
need you and you need us. Tell me what’s wrong from your perspective of what we’re doing, and we’ll talk to you from our perspective about what’s wrong with what you’re doing.” That’s what we do in a relationship-building training session, forgetting about any provision of a collective bargaining agreement. If you get people to look at each other and put the problem on the table, you’re beginning to get to the heart of how to improve relationships. The world that my clients lived in as professional musicians is no different in a sense than steel workers working in a mill who say to management, “When it comes to safety, we know more about what’s going on on this floor than you do as superintendents. Give us the opportunity to recommend what needs to be done.” I believe that’s true with respect to orchestra musicians. The more they have an opportunity to informally learn about problems and an opportunity to provide their input, you’re going to advance toward something constructive. Let’s take the opposite. What’s the kiss of death in the airline industry? When management said, “We need massive bargaining concessions” on the same day they announced the CEO has been given $11 million in stock options and a new multi-million dollar salary increase. Is this a good thing for collective bargaining? No. So, with orchestras, the first thing I always would hear was, “Look what you’re paying the maestro. Look what you’re paying guest artists. We musicians are your essential asset. Without us you have no operation. Why don’t we get more respect?” Now, I’m not taking sides. I know that’s what’s being said. Conversely, management has reasons that they think are necessary to modify the way performances are taking place. Or do more outreach or go into communities to promote classical music to potential new audiences. Or take initiatives that involve getting students oriented and educated about the wonderment of this music. Those are examples that signify the potential for change. Again, when change is at issue, the likelihood of reaching agreement is enhanced manyfold where
In December 2012, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service hosted a “Salute to Collective Bargaining” honoring the parties in five high-profile “best case” collectivebargaining successes. Read about those stories here (http://1.usa. gov/18DRpUW). The YouTube videos linked below tell the stories behind those collective-bargaining sessions. Alabama Power and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (http://bit. ly/1cH5UeV) Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers (http://bit. ly/1dHC7pc). This video features Martin Malloy, vice president of labor affairs at the Ford Company, and James Settles Jr., vice president of United Auto Workers, who both spoke at the League of American Orchestras’ 2012 National Conference. Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (http://bit.ly/1efB3aT) Major League Baseball and MLB Players Association (http://bit. ly/18sVM6n) United States Steel and the USW (http://bit.ly/1dHCi47)
informal, constructive, focused discussions take place in which the interests and concerns of both parties are fully explored. When that occurs, even the most challenging problems can be resolved. Rosen: What gives you a sense of hopefulness that we can do better? Cohen: A significant number of very important companies and unions have concluded that it’s desirable to have that type of relationship. The more individual orchestras and their unions get exposed to the model for doing it correctly—and the more doing it correctly proves that mutually satisfactory solutions are available—the more likely it is the word will spread and people will, in fact, modify their behavior and change the way they’re doing business with each other.
Telling Your Story Articulating orchestras’ public value in tangible ways has never been more necessary. Powerful stories help make the case, and resources for mapping your efforts are available from the League of American Orchestras. by Heidi Waleson
ast February, twenty staffers from twelve orchestras, large and small, spent a month learning how to tell stories. As participants in a webinar taught by Andy Goodman, a former television writer, they learned to choose characters, structure a story arc, and include telling details. They were not auditioning for jobs on Homeland, however; their task was more urgent. Storytelling, they hoped, would help them better communicate their orchestra’s public value and thereby ensure its long-term survival. Goodman’s storytelling workshop was part of the League of American Orchestras’ public value project, begun six years ago in response to worrying national trends that included a rising number of challenges to tax exemptions for nonprofits by policy makers seeking to generate revenue, as well as increasing scrutiny by legislators demanding that nonprofits demonstrate the “public value” that earns that tax-exempt status and the deductibility of donations to these organizations. The League’s initial research indicated that orchestras were widely perceived as the purview of the elite, and that their historical way of expressing their public value, in terms of artistic excellence, was no longer enough. (See “Making the Case,” Symphony, Summer 2011.) The League’s work, summarized in its online resource “Building Public Support: A Public Value Toolkit,” prescribes a shakeup in attitude and communications. Its objective is to urge orchestras to evalu-
ate how well they meet the broader needs of their communities through authentic actions, and whether they communicate their public value in a way that persuades legislators, funders, and the general public. Twelve orchestras representing the range of the League’s membership participated in shaping the project, testing the materials, and working through the steps in the toolkit. The project focuses on three key areas of work: board engagement in conversations regarding public value; mapping (a technique that visually demonstrates the extent of an orchestra’s impact beyond the concert hall); and communications/ storytelling.
data,” he asserts. “People with more of a data bias think it’s all about metrics and numbers, but in the act of persuading, stories are critical. We have stories in our brains. Say you want to change someone’s idea, and give them evidence that supports your view: they may have a story that says the opposite, and they won’t believe you. You may go to a five-star restaurant that has raves on Yelp, but you are never going back if you had a bad experience. Your story is, this restaurant sucks.” The solution, Goodman says, is “a more powerful story that will dislodge their story. If their story is, ‘That’s for rich people, not for me,’ or, if it’s, ‘I have limited money and would rather give it to poor kids who can’t eat,’ you have to give them a different story, about being an important part of the community.” The League’s storytelling workshop consisted of a one-hour video conference each week for four weeks, with homework in between. After presenting research about the power and effectiveness of storytelling, Goodman elaborated on the kinds of stories that work and techniques
“Research shows that stories trump data. People with more of a data bias think it’s all about metrics and numbers, but in the act of persuading, stories are critical,” says Andy Goodman. Heather Noonan, the League’s vice president for advocacy, has been spearheading the public value project with Judith Kurnick, who was the League’s vice president for strategic communications until her departure in June for the Houston Grand Opera. “This work must be thought of in a conscious, organizationwide context,” Noonan says. “It is complex to rethink how you represent yourself, especially when there are always short-term concerns around survival. The challenge is for this to become regular practice.” Andy Goodman has spent the last ten years explaining to nonprofits why storytelling is critical to communication. “Research shows that stories trump
for telling them well. The attendees wrote their own stories and polished them with feedback from Goodman. Examples drawn from their work were used as teaching tools within the webinar. An effective story, Goodman says, “lodges in the brain, and will let the data in. There’s a difference between journalism and narrative. We teach them to tell the story of the hero’s journey. The listener takes the full ride, and has an emotional response.” The League participants, he adds, had the stories to tell, “but they were not consciously collecting and telling them. If they were telling them, they were flat. They were not seeing faces light up. Given the guidelines, and a push, they did well.” symphony
Building Public Support: A ToolKit for Orchestras Refining the Stories
Dalouge Smith, president and CEO of the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, had no problem coming up with a story idea. “We have work that is purposefully designed to help young people achieve in more things than just music,” he says. SDYS’s Community Opus Project, now in its third year, seems tailor-made for a demonstration of public value: its goal is to return music to the public school day, beginning with an El Sistema-inspired afterschool music program, an endeavor that SDYS undertook when it became clear to the orchestra’s board just how skewed toward the affluent its programs were. Smith went into the webinar already persuaded that stories trump data. “When we started the Community Opus Project, we assumed that we would be very reliant on data to make the case, that the school district would be most interested in that. We found that even before there was much hard data, the school board responded to stories about changing students’ lives through their involvement and family engagement. We realized that these extra anecdotal resources were just as valuable—if not more valuable.” The webinar helped Smith construct and polish his story, “A Cello Rescues Bruno.” “Goodman took us through the structural design of a story,” Smith recalls. “What characteristics do you need? How do you fill out individuals? How can you be sure you are paying attention to the right person in the story?” The workshop students first wrote one paragraph, got it back with comments, and then wrote more. “We got feedback about elements such as, is this story following the structure? Is the language specific? The protagonist clear? The length appropriate? Does it take the reader on a particular journey?” Smith recalls. “In one of my first drafts, I gave away a little too much at the beginning, I didn’t maintain uncertainty.” Smith’s story—about a bored, disaffected Mexican-American third-grader who became energized about all his activities when he began playing the cello through SDYS’s afterschool program—now follows a persuasive arc. In particular, the americanorchestras.org
The stakes have never been higher for America’s nonprofit orchestras to convey how they are serving their communities. Today’s philanthropic and public decision-makers want to see how orchestras are meeting the needs of their communities. Funders and governments are making tough choices about how to allocate scarce resources. While artistic excellence is fundamental to the work of orchestras, it is no longer sufficient to generate community support. To earn wholehearted community support, orchestras need to act and communicate in new ways. And while there are some actions that can be taken in the near term, changing public perception will require a long-term commitment involving everyone in the organization. The resources in the League’s Toolkit help orchestras to meet this critical publicvalue communications challenge. Access the Toolkit in the Resources area at League360.org. Log in using your Hub username and password. If you need assistance, contact member services at (212) 262-5161.
boy’s determination to play the cello, regardless of setbacks, comes through, as does the SDYS staff ’s attention to him. “I learned that the basis for how we respond to the narrative of a story is based on the experiences that the main character in the story is having,” Smith says. “Demonstrating the overcoming of barriers multiple times, in different ways, engenders more interest and empathy for your characters. Using those techniques, we can show the difference our organization is making at the individual level.” Smith has already used the story with donors and in a verbal presentation to the county board of supervisors. He will also structure the year-end report for the Community Opus Project differently. “Instead of focusing on description, we will use stories, mini-vignettes about students and parents as the portfolio of information,” he says. Rachel Ford, executive director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in Tennessee, also found Goodman’s techniques illuminating. “We were already using stories, but not in the best way. We weren’t focusing on the right things,” she says. “There was no crescendo to them. We also realized that we didn’t have a repository of them, and there were none on our website.” The stories, Ford says, are crucial. “We’ve got to get them out there. People in town know we play a July 4 outdoor concert and do a masterworks series. They don’t understand that we are playing for kids, and in hospitals. In fact, 85 percent of what our musicians do is not on the
main stage. When I did the math and figured out what that number was, it was obvious that we were not telling it well.” She has started using better-crafted stories in board meetings, and urging the board to repeat them. “I tend to be very factual, but now I use the stories and tell the board, ‘The 50 of you are publicity for us. You can be telling these to your neighbors, and passing the feel-good on.’ ” Pam French Blaine, director of education and community engagement at the Pacific Symphony in southern California, was enthusiastic about the League’s public-value storytelling project. “It was so rewarding,” she says. “In education and community engagement, you think you know the impact of what you are doing, and what participants are taking away. In fact, we barely scratch the surface. You have to find the time to really interview someone, to talk about the obstacles they face. You have to ask the right questions: ‘And then what happened? How did it make you feel?’ ” The webinar was replayed for a group of ten additional Pacific Symphony staffers from a variety of departments, including development, marketing, and artistic. The Pacific Symphony has also created a story bank, with long stories that can be used and adapted by anyone who needs them. “Our representative from the development department ran with it,” Blaine says. “She took a story about a kid in one of our education programs and built a spring solicitation campaign around it.”
The Transparency of Nonprofits
This stepped-up activity in public value communications takes place against a backdrop of escalating challenges to cultural institutions and other nonprofits. While some orchestras may not have specifically encountered threats of new taxes or reduced government grants, the
potential for those, coupled with continuing scrutiny of the charitable deduction, is not going away. David L. Thompson, vice president of public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits, follows the national news in this area; there is so much of it that his newsletter, Nonprofit Advocacy Matters, has a regular column titled “Tax-
es, Fees and PILOTs” (Payments In Lieu Of Taxes). The July 1 issue detailed preliminary activity in two state legislatures, Maine and Massachusetts, that could lead to the heightened imposition of PILOTs. “In return for tax exemption, nonprofits give up profits, privacy, partisan politics,” Thompson says. “We are the most transparent segment of the U.S. economy, and we can’t run candidates against the mayor or legislators. So, of course state and local governments are picking on us! But we can and must fight back.” Tax-reform efforts at the federal level have been taking aim at the charitable deduction since 2009, and this year’s process is no different. At the end of June, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported, “The two senators leading the process of crafting legislation to overhaul the tax code announced Thursday that they are starting a ‘blank slate’ that strips out all deductions, exclusions, and credits and are giving their colleagues a month to make their cases for why such tax breaks—including for charitable donations—should be maintained.” Private funders also have increased expectations for the demonstration of public value. Karen Gahl-Mills, executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture in Ohio, has spoken twice at the League’s National Conference on this issue; this year’s session, she notes, was overflowing with attendees. “Our organization is a public funder for arts and culture around Cleveland,” she says. “We use tax dollars, and public dollars require demonstration of public value.” Her organization is not alone. “We are coming to find, in conversations with other funders, that this has become more prevalent in all kinds of circles. They are not as interested in legacy funding as before. They want to know the impact on the public at large.” Gahl-Mills, who was an orchestra manager herself (she came to CAC from top positions at the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and the Westchester Philharmonic, and took part in the League’s Executive Leadership Program), recognizes how challenging this new worldview is. “All of our legacy institutions, including symphony
Mapping Project orchestras, have a tough road,” she says. “Most of them were created out of the benevolence of a patron or a donor. They were not created to operate in the public sphere in the way that is expected today. Getting the institution to recognize that the world is different is challenging, and the bigger you are, the more complex it is.” Real public-value work, Gahl-Mills says, is not short-term audience-building activity, but where “the focus is on the relationship with the community. It’s about listening, and a more long-term view. Are we listening as much as we are providing? Some orchestras may think that public value means doing four subscription programs rather than six, and doing pops instead, because it’s more popular. That is shuffling the deck chairs. It doesn’t have a simple programming solution. This is more about how you think as an organization than what you do.” Nonprofits in all areas are recognizing the need for change both in attitude and in communication. The Alliance for Children and Families, a service organization, was so convinced that good storytelling would help its members that it launched
Mapping public value provides a new picture of the work an orchestra does in its community. The breadth of an orchestra’s engagement can be displayed powerfully in a set of maps and lists that show the number, variety, and geographic spread of the schools, community, and business partners with which an orchestra interacts. Check out the maps at: http://www.americanorchestras.org/advocacy-government/ public-value-toolkit/mapping-project.html For all member orchestras, the League offers a PDF of the basic mapping report, which entails a one-hour phone call to discuss the data-collection process, and a one-hour call to discuss the finished map. This basic map from a single database includes six maps and accompanying partner lists selecting from these options: best view of all partners; county level; city proper; congressional district; median household income. The mapping process and PDF of the finished product are available from the League free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis. A larger, more customized mapping report is available at a cost of $300 for members, $500 for nonmembers. This report includes up to twelve maps with lists including the basic maps, plus two or three of the following options: race; median age; partners by duration; numbers served; supplementary maps based on additional data sets (i.e. employees, vendors). The range will depend on the data supplied and require a detailed consultation with League staff. All customized mapping reports come with a finished PDF and the original files. Contact Najean Lee at email@example.com to get started.
serves of dollars. Our funding has always come from government. Government people can use the jargon, they know what we are talking about, but we have to talk to private funders now. We have organizations that always thought they
Real public-value work is where “the focus is on the relationship with the community,” says Karen Gahl-Mills, executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture in Ohio. “It’s about listening, and a long-term view. Are we listening as much as we are providing?” a two-year storytelling project, including work with Goodman, that will end in an American Idol-like story competition with prizes and audience voting. Polina Makievsky, the Alliance’s senior vice president, had observed that many of its organizations, some 200 years old, would say, “We’re the best-kept secret in town.” But failing to communicate public value can prevent a nonprofit from attracting needed resources and support. “One measure of success,” Makievsky says, “will be when they stop saying we’re very wellkept secrets,” she says. Storytelling has a real purpose for the Alliance’s constituents. “How we tell our story has to be tied to a specific objective,” Makievsky says. “We have shrinking reamericanorchestras.org
could never use volunteers; now they do. And we always talked about what we did, not what we achieved. The general public may not experience our services, but they benefit from the outcomes: a safe society, healthy kids. We shift the conversation to what communities are like because we’re there, and what they would be like if we weren’t there.” For Pam Blaine, communicating public value has become a key part of her work at the Pacific Symphony. “I have gone down the path of storytelling,” she says. “I’ve started working at the staff level, and in the education community, integrating the public-value piece into what I say about our work. I get really concerned about the future of the art form, and I feel I’m on
the front lines proselytizing for orchestras. We need better language to express how we serve the community.” She would like to see the public-value concept become even more deeply embedded at the Pacific Symphony, the lead partner in the League’s project, than it already is. “You can’t think about the future and not see the need to be relevant to a larger community,” she says. “Is our board culturally diverse? Is what we do fulfilling public need? Are we at the table when big public issues are discussed? I don’t think anyone disagrees with that vision. But putting it into practice means letting go of some of the focus on the short-term needs, like the endowment campaign, or the annual-fund campaign. If people were all of like mind in your organization, you could move the needle quickly.” Dalouge Smith concurs. “If your orchestra or any arts organization can’t articulate the value it brings to its community, it needs to learn to do that, or the community will stop thinking you are worth investing in. In the short term, it may be hard to find time, but you have to squeeze out the time to benefit in the long term.” HEIDI WALESON writes about the performing arts and is opera critic for The Wall Street Journal.
Rethinking Assumptions With its theme of “Imagining 2023,” the League’s National Conference offered far-reaching looks at what the future might hold for orchestras, while tackling the pressing issues of today.
n June 18, the Opening Session of the League’s 2013 Conference took a provocative leap ahead with a keynote address by Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums, who proposed new ways of thinking that might help organizations embrace the now—and shape their own futures. League President and CEO Jesse Rosen introduced Merritt as “someone who lives comfortably way out ahead of our time and who has devoted her professional life to helping people move forward. Elizabeth Merritt is the founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums. The Center is a branch of the American Alliance of Museums, and it was created in 2008 to help museums understand the cultural, political, economic, environmental, and technological trends shaping the world, and to envision how museums can help their communities thrive in coming decades. Orchestras have a lot to learn from the experiences of the museum world.” Here are excerpts from Merritt’s address. Elizabeth Merritt: What is it that we futurists do? To clear up the most common misconception, futurists do not predict the future. So don’t ask me about the stock market; I can’t answer. What we do is we help people imagine different potential futures within what futurists call “the cone of plausibility.” There are many plausible possible futures, and the most important thing for our work is to realize that any of these potential futures could come to pass. We need to use our
imaginations to open up our thinking, and realize both the kind of utopia that we could live in if we help nurture the right circumstances, and also be aware that things can go terribly wrong, and try and know what it is that could shape that dark future that we don’t want to live in. I’m hoping that what I can share with you today are some little glimpses of the future, because I think, in some ways, museums are riding the bow wave. Maybe
“Museums are having to let go of habits and assumptions to find the one true thing that they’re adhering to, and then figure out how to let everything else morph as the world changes.” they’re a little bit ahead of orchestras in some ways in trying to navigate these shoals. So what is it that we’re finding as we navigate these museum futures? We’re finding that we are in an identity crisis. Jesse [Rosen] spoke of the need to understand your core purpose. This is something that many commercial companies have foundered on. For example, Kodak. It was classically founded on a technology—the technology of film, of cameras. But they became so tied up in the technology they forgot that the real experience they were delivering, the emotions, could be done in other ways. And now, they’ve been overtaken by all sorts of other delivery mechanisms that mean that those Kodak moments can be shared instantly via people’s cell phones over social media.
Nothing is private anymore, and they’re left in the dust because they were so focused on the mechanism that they forgot the heart of what they did: the sharing of memory and emotions. So maybe nonprofits don’t have as big an identity crisis as that. We do, after all, have our missions. We have focus. But within that, there can be a great deal of confusion. People ask me all the time, “What is the definition of a museum?” I can’t tell them. I can put a hundred museum people in a room, and they can argue about it for three days, and they will not come up with an answer. We know it has something to do with authenticity. We know it has something to do with the real thing. But what does that mean in a world where the Google Art Project can deliver right into your home computer high-quality digital reproductions of masterworks from all over the world, when you can tour the Louvre or the Metropolitan through a virtual environment? Is that real? They’re real works. They’re accurately reproduced. As we try to navigate this identity crisis, we’re trying to hold onto what Jesse called the “core purpose.” Many of the museums we see foundering today are ones that, instead of holding onto that one true thing, tried to take the whole equation of how you make a museum work, this big complex organism, and control every single variable. And it doesn’t work. Museums are having to let go of those habits and assumptions to find the one true thing that they’re adhering to, and then figure out how to let everything else morph as the world changes. Some of the assumptions they’re having to let go of are, for example, assumptions about place. The presumption was that if you had a big-name architect and a major new cultural center, people would come use it. Much of that assumption turned out to be wrong. If you build symphony
Elizabeth Merritt delivers her keynote speech at the League of American Orchestras’ 2013 Conference in St. Louis.
it, they will not come—unless it serves a community need. Time: the day of the old 9-to-5, Tuesday-through-Sunday museum is dead. That’s not when people live their lives; that’s not when they have free time. So you have more and more museums experimenting with being open into the evening; heck, with being open all night. When the Dallas Museum of Art experimented with this, people lined up at 2 and 3 in the morning to get into the museum, because that was a cool time to be there. You have museums having to let go of assumptions about content. I kid you not, the first internet cat video festival was held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis last year. They opened up the lawn outside the museum, had a big-screen projector, invited people to watch the finalists, and had 10,000 people show up. This is so popular it’s now gone on the road and may be coming soon to a museum near you. Was it serious content? One of their curators commented, “This is material culture. One of the most important things a museum can do is help people think critically about material culture and about emerging forms of art.” So yes, this was very to the point of their mission. Museums are having to question assumptions about format. It’s not necessarily the traditional four walls of the museum and you come and visit. The museum may come to you. This is the Guggenheim BMW Lab that’s now traveling the world; it’s a massive portable pop-up museum that helps cities examine their thoughts about design. It sets up in New York, Berlin, in americanorchestras.org
cities in China, and it says, “Come talk to us about urban design. What do you want the city to look like? What are the elements of design that make a city livable?” We question assumptions about scale. A museum like the Smithsonian can be tremendously proud if they have a million people visit one of their venues. Well, as their director of digital initiatives, Michael Edson, says, the internet now reaches 2.4 billion people. Does that make you feel a little small? Conversely, there are museums that traditionally in their mission statements say, “We want to be worldclass.” Should they be thinking smaller? Should they be looking at their local audience and asking how they can best serve their community? Last of all, museums are having to re-think assumptions about structure and authority. In some ways, those are the assumptions that hobble all of these other variables. The traditional museum where the director was in charge of curators who had status and authority, who told the educators what they could interpret in the exhibits, that’s changing. Museums like the Oakland Museum of California are restructuring their entire organizational chart to center on the community, to say, “What is the community’s opinion of what we should be collecting and preserving and interpreting? Because that is the core of our purpose.” When that equation balances successfully, it’s because you’ve found a core purpose that is either essential (people cannot live without it) or addictive (people don’t want to live without it) or, ideally, both. How do we balance that equation? We look at the world around us and see what the trends are for the way people want to consume these essential and addictive experiences. Here are some of the trends that museums are having to navigate as they try to come to a balanced equation. First of all, people want experiences that are shareable—they want to go in with their cell phone and take a photograph and share it on Twitter and Facebook. The whole premise of how museums mediate this interaction is so changed that most museums don’t have the old “No Photography” signs.
People want museums to be participatory, and not just in the sense of “Here’s an interactive exhibit. You can flip up the label.” People really want to get their hands on. People also want personalized experiences. In the Live Museum Soundtrack at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles put on by the Machine Project, you can pick up one of the resident musicians, who will plug into a set of headphones, follow you around, and create a personalize soundtrack for the museum. That’s so cool! People also want more control over the length of time of the experience they have, and there’s a simple solution: you could say, “Here’s something you could do at lunch.” People want experiences that are multisensory—it isn’t enough just to have a visual experience anymore. Most dramatically, museums are finally finding ways to break the barrier of “don’t touch.” We are now able to use technology to create the illusion of being able to touch the things that previously were behind the velvet rope. People want experiences that are distributed. It’s not even necessarily going to the museum, it’s how can the museum come to you. You may notice that a lot of the things I mentioned involve technology. One of the dangers of thinking about the future is
Conference Resources A wealth of information about the League’s 2013 Conference, including text, presentations, and videos, is available at the League website. Visit http://www.americanorchestras. org/conferences-meetings/ conference-2013.html for more on: Opening Session: Imagining 2023 After-School Programs: Learning from the Getty Orchestras Building Community Through MusicMaking Developing Cross-Cultural Competency Health and Wellness Programs: Learning from the Getty Orchestras Learning from New Ensembles
EMERGING LEADERS What do America’s orchestras need?
You Go to americanorchestras.org to ﬁnd out more.
Imagining 2023 in Six Words Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s concept of the “six-word story,” last spring the League invited the field to imagine what orchestras might be in 2013 using just six words. Before the Conference, people could share six-word stories, thoughts, meditations, and visions on the League’s Twitter and Instagram profiles by posting to the League’s Facebook wall, or via email. At the Conference, Post-it notes and pens beckoned, and delegates got creative. The results were integrated into the interactive closing session of the Conference, which also included open mics at which delegates were welcome to speak out. What did people have to say about the future of orchestras in a mere six words? Here’s a small sampling.
the shiny robots and the jet packs. We get fixated on the technology. Here’s a secret: it’s never really about the technology. The technology just ignites and accelerates cultural change, and helps shape people’s expectations. Do museums have to adapt to this expectation? Heck, no. There are examples of successful museums that haven’t changed in 150 years. The St. Johnsbury Athanaeum in Vermont was founded in 1871. Being an athenaeum, it has a burgeoning library, but it also has a traditional art collection that doesn’t have augmented reality, doesn’t have podcast tours, hardly even has labels. And it’s beautiful, and it’s beloved by its community. There is always space to be traditional, to adhere to what worked in the past. It may just not be a very big space. So if we’re looking ahead to see what museums might look like in the future, let’s remember: we’re not trying to predict what that’s going to be. We’re trying to imagine the different possibilities. One possibility I can imagine is a fragmented world, in which most museums stick to the traditional model of being inside the four walls, of presenting mostly nonparticipatory, authoritarian exhibits. And that’s going to be fine. They’re going to have dedicated audiences. But all of those addictive and essential art history and science experiences they aren’t providing are going to be provided by somebody else. It’s a fragmented future that still has vibrant art, history, science, all of these experiences—it’s just that many of them americanorchestras.org
don’t live in museums. Conversely, I can see a future of ubiquity, in which the majority of museums have chosen to be flexible, adaptive, immersed in their communities. More of them might end up looking more like Project Row Houses in Houston, which is founded on the premise that art is essential to the well-being of a community and that a community’s identity is housed in its historic structures. Is it historic houses? Yes. Is it about art? Yes. It also has a laundromat, because that community desperately needs a laundromat. It has daycare for working mothers, because otherwise they can’t get jobs. It has educational and vocational programs for the youth who need to find futures in Houston. It also has resident artists. And it also has preserved those historic row houses that were part of the fundamental identity of that neighborhood. So my challenge to you as you go
through the Conference is take those two potential futures—fragmentation and ubiquity—out of the many that are out there and fill in the word “orchestra.” In a fragmented future, if orchestras choose to fill a vital but more constricted role, who are the other players that are going to step in and provide compelling, addictive experiences? And in the ubiquitous future, what will an orchestra look like? What are all the ways it might be embedded in the community? How might it look very different from the orchestra that you saw 20 years ago? In 50 years if you fast-forward and I say to somebody, “What is an orchestra?,” I might get an answer as different as if I said to a child today, “What is a phone?” Because this isn’t about making phone calls; it’s about communication. It’s about sharing. That’s its core purpose. What is the core purpose of the orchestra, and what would it look like in a ubiquitous future?
“ An (American) composer with an International Perspective…What he is up to has far-reaching implications for the direction that classical music will take this century.” THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
Mark Grey Music for Orchestra
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• PURSUIT for orchestra (2005) • 2014 PREMIERES: CHAMBER SYMPHONY, Los Angeles Philharmonic/ĀTASH SORUSHĀN (FIRE ANGELS) for tenor, soprano and orchestra, Atlanta Symphony • 2016 PREMIERE: FRANKENSTEIN full-length opera, La Monnaie/ Da Munt (Brussels) For additional information contact
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Sonic You T
he National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America made a big splash at its debut in July, capturing headlines and galvanizing audiences. The orchestra’s credentials alone were stellar: created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, led by no less than Valery Gergiev, and featuring Joshua Bell as soloist. Following a highly competitive audition process, the orchestra brought together 120 outstanding musicians, ages 16 to 19, for a tuition-free two-week training residency at Purchase College, State University of New York, where faculty included principal players from several American orchestras. After an inaugural concert in Purchase, they hit the road, with performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, St. Petersburg’s brand-new
Mariinsky II theater (see related article on page 58), and London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. Perhaps most impressive were the critical hosannas for the technical skill and youthful exuberance of these musicians. Not a bad way to start. In fact, the application process for NYOUSA’s second year is already under way (see carnegiehall.org for details). The National Youth Orchestra is just the tip of the youth-orchestra iceberg. Youth orchestras have been vital contributors to American cultural life for decades, and they are flourishing all over—from Bellevue, Washington to Flint, Michigan; from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania to San Diego, California; from Miami, Florida to Anchorage, Alaska. Youth orchestras comprise vast grassroots enterprises that are highly community-oriented and draw fierce local dedication and support. New orchestras
are being created each year to meet the growing demand for music education and positive activities for young people. Their administrators are networked, their technology initiatives are growing, and their artistic product is better than ever. Helping to support all this activity is the League of American Orchestras’ Youth Orchestra Division, which plays an important role in the development of the field by offering specialized training, support, information, advice, and networking opportunities throughout the year. Approximately 175 youth orchestras belong to the Youth Orchestra Division. Many of these groups are independent, while others are affiliated with professional orchestras; an overwhelming majority of the orchestras offer scholarships in order to make the programs as accessible as possible; and around 30 percent of musicians in primary youthsymphony
orchestra ensembles are minorities. This groundswell of activity makes the National Youth Orchestra of the USA possible. “What could be more important to our collective future than to celebrate and support our youth orchestras?” asks Polly Kahn, the League’s vice president for Learning and Leadership Development. “These passionate, accomplished young people, reflective of the joyous diversity of our country, are coming together around a love of symphonic music. Here are our future civic leaders, teachers, parents, audience and school board members, and amateur and professional musicians. Where better to look for a shining future for our field?” What’s it like to be a part of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA? Three gifted young musicians kept journals for Symphony, giving a rare inside perspective on this landmark experience. americanorchestras.org
NYO-USA members Nikolette LaBonte and Caelan Stewart rehearse with William VerMeulen, principal horn of the Houston Symphony, July 2, 2013
Locally based youth orchestras are flourishing, and now a national youth orchestra has emerged under the banner of Carnegie Hall. Three of its talented young players chronicle this summer’s inaugural events. July 2, 2013 Purchase, N.Y.
Ànnika Jenkins Instrument: Violin Age: 18 Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia School: Laurel Springs Gifted and Talented Academy Studies Music at: Juilliard Pre-College Ensembles: Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra, Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia Symphony Orchestra, World Youth Alliance Chamber Orchestra, Hampton Roads Chamber Players
To most, I am best known as the girl with the violin: the one who always has it hanging from her shoulder no matter where, no matter when. It is a part of who I am, and my life is defined by the music I make from the notes on a page. I arrived at Purchase College with my heart on fire. Music has the amazing capability of bringing people together like nothing else in the world, and it didn’t take long to begin. The Day One schedule already had a two-hour rehearsal built in. Bending back the freshly bound spine of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 first violin part, I was caught in the wonder of what was about to take place. While I have been trained as a soloist, I have continued to pursue my passion for ensemble playing with orchestras and chamber groups since I was eight. One of the things I love most is leading an orches-
The 120 members of NYO-USA, dressed in the official outfit of red pants and star-spangled sneakers at Purchase College, SUNY, July 10, 2013
tra. Instead of traditional seating, eight of the 40 NYO-USA violinists were chosen as permanent first violinists to anchor the “core” sound and to rotate for the many performances. The same was set for the second violins. Twenty-four violinists alternate between first and second. I have served as concertmaster of the Juilliard Pre-College Symphony and Pre-College Orchestra, for several international youth orchestras, and, for the past five years, for the Bay Youth Orchestras of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The NYO-USA system was new to me, and I found it intriguing to use leadership from throughout the orchestra for creating the richest tone. It is an interesting idea that NYO members can share with their own youth orchestras. As we waited anxiously to begin, the hall vibrated with intensity: 120 young musicians from every corner of the United States of America sitting on one stage, waiting to play our first sounds together. All eyes on the conductor, the downbeat fell on that first fated, resounding chord of the second movement and we could feel him in the room. Dmitri Shostakovich came alive: his masterpiece soaring, colored now with a flare of red, white, and blue. Violinist Ànnika Jenkins
day was preparation for Joshua Bell’s arrival in two days. We had rehearsed with Robert Chen, concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as soloist the Friday before to get a feel for how a solo artist works with the orchestra. Each artist has his or her own distinct interpretation to which the orchestra must constantly adjust. Since I had performed the Tchaikovsky concerto twice as soloist with different orchestras the year before, the notes were fastened to my fingers, and one of the hardest things for me was having to tame the desire to burst out with the solo line myself. One garners important and valuable insight from each perspective. It was an intense day of rehearsing, but at day’s end, we were all excited and more than ready for the arrival of Maestro Gergiev and Joshua Bell. As we did on many nights during residency, my roommate and I “rocked out” to music in our own private dance party to unwind following rehearsal. The playlist? Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, his Piano Quintet, and what else…..Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Nutcracker, along with much more. Where else would discussions of orchestral excerpts, conducting technique, and counterpoint be appreciated at 2 a.m., or would people spend breaks improvising Mendelssohn’s chord progressions and writing cadenze to the great concerti on the spot?
July 9, 2013 Purchase, N.Y.
July 8, 2013 Purchase, N.Y.
I cannot think of a better way to spend my birthday than by playing the music of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky! I fell in love with his Violin Concerto when I was eight years old. I remember playing a recording of it nonstop for hours—I know the score by heart. The first three-hour rehearsal of the
I never heard an orchestra go so quiet so fast. Maestro Gergiev was on the way. The entire orchestra sat in complete silence waiting for him to appear. Five minutes felt like forever. When he walked in, he was met with reverent applause. He picked up his baton and said, “Shall we?” and we played straight through the complete Shostakovich Tenth Symphony. Everyone was on the edge of their seat. Afterward came the perfectionism: breaking down every phrase, every line, every page, every movement. It was the most satisfying exhaustion I have ever felt. I love Shostakovich’s work. He is probably one of the most relatable and accessible composers for me. He very outwardly uses music to express his innermost turmoil. July 11, 2013 Purchase, N.Y.
I am passionate about contemporary music and thrilled to be performing the commis-
Youth Orchestra Division
America’s hundreds of youth orchestras have never been more popular and in demand, and the League of American Orchestras is committed to their advancement. Members of the League’s Youth Orchestra Division enjoy a host of benefits, from peer-topeer communication and hands-on professional development to sessions at the League’s National Conference tailored for youth orchestras—plus a wide range of webinars, conference calls, seminars, tools, and a newsletter. To learn more, visit americanorchestras. org and look for “Youth, Education, and Community.”
sioned work Magiya by Sean Shepherd. I was lucky enough to give the world premiere of Soviet-born Armenian composer Andrey Kasparov’s Rhapsody on Hassidic Tunes, a beautiful, virtuosic solo violin piece he wrote for me. From working on this piece, I learned you have to approach new works with an open mind and never reject or accept any possibility until it has been explored in its entirety. It was a privilege to have Sean Shepherd in Purchase to offer immediate feedback about his work. Tonight, it was incredible to premiere Magiya, which means magic in Russian. And magic it was. The Tchaikovsky was an explosion of emotion and adrenaline. Joshua Bell managed to ride on top of this exuberance. The intensity of Shostakovich was the same level but with different shades of color, more of a black and blue aura that darkened the hall. It was like being part of another world for a while, free to elide the past, present and future. July 13, 2013 Washington, D.C.
To perform in the capital as the first-ever National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America was thrilling. We played to a sold-out Kennedy Center, and I felt like this was the real start of our journey as an orchestra together. As a 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholar, I had played solo and chamber works at the Kennedy Center a few weeks before. To play with a full orchestra representing our country truly was a dream. The concert ended with a fantastic flash of Porgy and Bess, and the audience symphony
rose to their feet. I couldn’t wait to greet my family, who had traveled five hours to be there. Everyone was waiting outside the stage door, and there were cheers, highfives, and lots of hugs and kisses as we exited the backstage door into the Kennedy Center’s Hall of Nations.
are so passionate about music, and tremendously skilled with his/her instrument. The first thing I realized was the rich tone of the string and wind players; every musician from the first stand to last played like a section leader and I had never witnessed that before. I greatly look forward to Gergiev’s and Bell’s arrival and our international tour!
Clarinetist Tom Jeon
Tom Jeon Instrument: Clarinet Age: 19 Hometown: Lexington, Massachusetts School: Lexington High School Ensemble: Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Interests: Intern at the Micro/Nano Technology Labs at MIT; hopes to pursue a career in clarinet performance, business, economics, marketing, or law July 7, 2013 Purchase, N.Y.
Looking back on the first week of the NYO-USA residency, I arrived at SUNY Purchase two days after I returned from another inaugural orchestra tour, performing with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in the Netherlands. I felt really nostalgic; I had really fallen for the sheer talent of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the group camaraderie everyone developed throughout the tour. On the first full day at Purchase, I realized that NYO-USA residency was not an easy place to be jet-lagged and nostalgic. We’ve had Feldenkrais sessions and seminars about how to engage with audiences, yoga for musicians, improvisation, conducting, and composition classes available to us; but what I find most valuable are the people here. Having master classes and instrument sectionals with Ricardo Morales, principal clarinetist of The Philadelphia Orchestra, was very beneficial to my playing, and having the opportunity to get to know him at a personal level during lunch, I was both inspired and amused. He’s a funny guy. It seems the Carnegie Hall staff members know everyone by name. I am greeted every time I pass one of the staff and feel welcomed. My colleagues in this orchestra americanorchestras.org
After long plane rides, we arrived in Moscow a couple of days ago. I can feel the orchestra tense up a little bit from the excitement and anxiety of being in a totally unfamiliar setting. Only two members of the orchestra can speak Russian, and only one of them has ever been to Russia. After an 11:30 p.m. dinner at our hotel, we went on a walking tour to the Red Square. And it was beautiful. We passed colorfully lit up fountains and an underground mall, only to arrive at the Kremlin with what looked like a candy castle—St. Basil’s Cathedral—in the same view. It was raining, and I didn’t have an umbrella, but I couldn’t have cared less; I was too busy taking pictures. The concert at the Moscow Conservatory went really well. This was our first concert outside home ground, without families and friends. It seemed as though this concert was our first test in the professional sense—whether our music-making would be appreciated by foreigners who have no connection to us other than the fact that they too like classical music. When the concert was over, I realized the audience was more reserved and polite. They did not give standing ovations or a “woo” but clapped in rhythm all together. There would be a crescendo of applause then came a steady, collective clapping. They clapped in rhythm as Joshua Bell and Maestro Gergiev went on and off stage several times, and Joshua Bell gave a second solo encore after performing Tchaikovsky’s Mélodie with us. Our first concert abroad was a success. July 22, 2013 London, U.K.
Probably the most inspiring and memorable event for me in London was when I got to talk to some of the people outside the Royal Albert Hall, the day of our BBC Proms concert. They had settled on picnic mats and fold-up chairs. They told me, “Your concert better be good, mate; we’ve
July 16, 2013 Moscow, Russia
been waiting here to buy our tickets since five in the morning.” Our concert didn’t start until 7:30 that night. It was then I realized how people could be so passionate and eager for a performance by, yes, Gergiev and Bell, but by a youth orchestra. The concert last night I will cherish forever. I’ve never played in front of that many people before. Every balcony was filled. People sat in every chair in the hall. Thousands of people stood on the top balconies and in the center floor for three hours to watch us play. I am told that the hall seats 5,000, and another 1,000 stand. It’s just awe-inspiring to reminisce on the energy of both the orchestra and the audience.
Julia Popham Instrument: Violin Age: 17 Hometown: Golden, Colorado School: Lakewood High School Ensemble: Denver Young Artists Orchestra Interests: Hopes to pursue a career in music July 11, 2013 Purchase College, N.Y.
Today I had the opportunity to play a 1725 Stradivarius for Maestro Valery Gergiev. Wow. Here’s how it happened. Although I was nervous to meet such a legendary
musician, after rehearsal I forced myself to walk to the podium and say hello. When I reached the podium, I was taken aback by the maestro’s immediate question, “Do you want to play the violin?” I was already flustered from simply approaching him, so this question caught me off guard. At first I thought he was referring to my future career in music. So I replied, “I’m not sure.” However, my future was not what he was inquiring about. He rephrased the question, “No, do you want to play the violin now?” If I was confused before, now I was utterly flabbergasted. Of course I want to play violin now! Why else would I be here? Finally a lady touched my shoulder and pointed to a violin lying next to Gergiev. She said, “The maestro is looking at violins. Would you like to play this Stradivarius for him?” Aha! His question made sense at last. Although my body shook from nervousness, I agreed. Violinist Julia Popham
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While rosining my bow, I decided to play an American classic, “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Ungar. This piece has held a special place in my heart since I first played it at my church in eighth grade. Whenever I warm up for an audition, performance, or competition, I always play “Ashokan Farewell” to remind me that the pure emotion and soul of music are so much more important than the technical execution. The sound of the violin was gorgeous. “Ashokan Farewell” sounded like a completely different piece when played on the $5.5-million instrument. I couldn’t believe that I was really playing a Stradivarius for symphony
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the maestro. I kept thinking, “Is this really happening?” During rehearsal I had been planning on saying a quick hello—little did I know that I would end up playing a Strad for Gergiev! There have been so many spontaneous, beautiful moments here. I am excited to experience the many more serendipitous moments that will unfold on this tour. Washington D.C., here we come! July 12, 2013 Washington, D.C.
The NYO musicians are treated like royalty. Tonight, the night before our Kennedy Center concert, we performed at the Russian Embassy in D.C. At first I was intimidated by the superbly dressed adults at the party, but after meeting many of them, I realized that we all, students and adults alike, were bonded through our love and dedication to the arts. I learned so much by talking with people who ran corporations that support the arts. I often get so consumed with the actual creation of music that I forget to recognize the crucial financial support needed to keep it alive. Tonight I met the unsung heroes of classical music—the
donors. They are fundamental components to the music’s survival, and yet they are often skimmed over by listeners. I gained a greater appreciation for the people who work behind the scenes of the arts. They are equally as important as the musicians, yet they work in positions that do not render wild applause and praise. July 19, 2013 St. Petersburg, Russia
Where to begin? Today was one of the happiest days of my life. This morning we played Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture with the Russian Youth Orchestra of St. Petersburg. During the initial minutes of rehearsal, we sounded like two orchestras that happened to be playing the same piece at the same time. But as our two cultures began to musically communicate and find middle ground, the giant orchestra began to meld into one sound, one identity, breathing and living as one. It was moving to see kids from two radically different cultures come together and not only find peace but understanding as well, through their common love for music. Tonight we went to see the opera Tosca
at the new Mariinsky II, where we performed last night. It was my first opera, and I absolutely loved it. I am so grateful to Carnegie Hall for exposing the orchestra to the best of the arts. From visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, to the opera in the great new hall, I feel like I am getting a glimpse into what great art looks and sounds like. Over the course of this tour, I have gained a deep fondness and respect for Gergiev. From the very first rehearsal in Purchase, he has actively pursued a friendship with the orchestra. For example, tonight after conducting Tosca, he invited NYO up to the roof of the new hall. Maestro Gergiev is one of the most prominent classical musicians in the world; he does not need our friendship. I am taken aback by the fact that he wants to spend time with us simply because he is genuinely interested in our lives. Tonight on the roof, many of the members crowded around the great maestro for pictures. Before the photo, Gergiev would first ask each musician about his/her background, passion for
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THE CLASSIC FILM MUSIC OF ELMER BERNSTEIN CONDUCTED BY PETER BERNSTEIN The Magnificent Seven To K i l l a M o c k i n g b i r d
National Geographic Theme The Age of Innocence
T h e Te n C o m m a n d m e n t s Ghostbusters
Three Amigos Tr u e G r i t
T h e M a n Wi t h t h e Golden Arm
Left to right: Violinist Julia Popham, clarinetist Tom Jeon and cellist Clara Abel at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 19, 2013
…he's the best there is, the very best — Martin Scorsese One of the greatest composers of film music — The Times of London … directed with great feeling by his son Peter Bernstein…spectacular — asturscore.com Charts and multimedia included
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The Great Escape
music, and life aspirations. These discourses went long into the night; however, Gergiev remained equally interested in every single young adult. His kindness and generosity are humbling. July 21, 2013 London, U.K.
The day NYO-USA had been anxiously awaiting finally arrived: the day of the BBC Proms performance. The energy was high. This would be our last performance, the last time we would play together as an orchestra. Being a member of the first National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America has been a journey of a lifetime. I have had the honor of watching my friends blossom during their time here. I found that I, as well as many others, have gained an enormous amount of confidence as well as trust in friends during the residency and tour. The members of NYO have become so much more than colleagues, or even friends: they have become my family and my home. The final sound of NYO-USA was of 120 individual musicians who had musically molded into one spirit. By the end of the tour, the intimacy of our relationships sounded in the voice of the orchestra. The final performance was the proclamation of our great journey. There were no individuals on the stage that night, there was just one, united, loving family. I cannot express how sad I am to close this joyous chapter in my life. However, the joy that I felt here has opened me up not only as a musician, but as a human being as well. The most important thing I learned here was how to give, and how to love. Thank you so much, Carnegie Hall, for giving me the opportunity to blossom. I hope to see you next summer for NYO-USA 2014! symphony
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Screening by Michael Stugrin
Rooms From the silent era to the video-game age, films with live music performed by an orchestra are bringing new dimensions to the concert experience.
This fall at Davies Symphony Hall, scenes from Hitchcock’s North by Northwest will be matched with Bernard Herrmann’s classic score performed by the San Francisco Symphony (shown here in a mockup) under guest conductor Joshua Gersen. Also on the November 2 film-with-orchestra program: Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, and To Catch a Thief.
Courtesy San Francisco Symphony
n three balmy spring evenings in Costa Mesa, in southern California, concertgoers nearly filled Segerstrom Hall, the 2,000-seat home of the Pacific Symphony and the Orange County Philharmonic Association. The crowd was mostly dressed haute couture and in business suits, but with a noticeable representation of 20s-30s-40s “surfer gals and dudes” in jeans and sneakers. A typical Southern California concert audience. Billed as “a symphonic night at the movies,” the concert featured a screening of a restored version of the 1952 film Singin’ in the Rain with the Pacific Symphony performing the full score, conducted by Richard Kaufman, the orchestra’s longtime principal pops conductor and a Hollywood music veteran. The score by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolf Green, direction by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and stellar performances by Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Jean Hagan—all made for an eye- and ear-popping evening. The gilding on the concert lily was commentary before and after the performance by Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene Kelly’s widow and a biographer and film historian. The images on the huge screen were crisp, nearly lifelike; and the richly orchestrated score sounded familiar and yet vibrant and fresh. The audience for Singin’ in the Rain did, in fact, do some singing, or at least humming. Just a week later, at the 500-seat Samueli Theater next door to Segerstrom Hall, an enthusiastic crowd gathered for a rare screening of Friedrich Murnau’s 1926 silent-film classic Faust, featuring the live performance of an original score by the Swiss-born composer-saxophonist Daniel Schnyder and his jazz trio. A third film-with-orchestra production by the Pacific Symphony, vastly different from either of these, occurred this summer
when the orchestra presented Video Games Live at the 16,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. It was a multimedia celebration of video games bursting with state-of-the-art lighting, special effects, video, interactive segments, and a soaring-throbbing score drawn from such games as “Super Mario Bros.,” “Final Fantasy,” “Halo,” and “Assassin’s Creed.” Emmanuel Fratianni, a Hollywood-based music director and former professor in the Jazz Department of the Montreux Conservatory of Music, led the Pacific Symphony in the concert, which was created and hosted by video-game composer and musician Tommy Tallarico. But as soon as that enormous assemblage of lights, projectors, and computers was cleared away, start-up was set to begin for a performance by the Pacific Symphony of Pixar in Concert, featuring music and sights from Disney/Pixar’s digital classics such as Finding Nemo, Cars, and Ratatouille. On the podium was Sarah Hicks, staff conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music and principal pops conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra. This season film music sans visuals is also on tap at the Pacific Symphony. In February, no less than John Williams will arrive at Segerstrom Hall to conduct selections from his vast repertoire, including Star Wars, Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, and Lincoln. Then in May, the orchestra and Music Director Carl St.Clair will present From Score to Screen as part of the orchestra’s 2014 American Composers Festival. The concert will feature music by Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, The Thin Red Line, The Last Samurai), Elliot Goldenthal (Batman Forever, Frida), and Bernard Herrmann (The Devil and Daniel Webster, Psycho, North by Northwest, Taxi Driver). It might be tempting to attribute Pacific Symphony’s penchant for projects like these to its proximity to the film industry. And certainly the Los Angeles Philharmonic has been a pioneer on this front, forging long-established relationships with Hollywood studios. For decades, many of the Philharmonic’s most seasoned musicians have played movie scores for Hollywood’s legendary filmmakers. The Philharmonic’s revered annual movie nights at the Hollywood Bowl have largely defined the genre.
But the film-with-orchestra trend is a far stronger and broader national and international phenomenon. From Alaska (Anchorage Symphony, Modern Times) to Denver (Colorado Symphony’s “Symphony at the Movies” series, including Casablanca) to Maine (Portland Symphony, The Mark of Zorro); from large orchestras (New York Philharmonic’s “Film Week at the Philharmonic,” including 2001: A Space Odyssey) to small (Pennsylvania’s Butler County Symphony Orchestra, City Lights), U.S. orchestras, and dozens of others worldwide, are programming filmwith-orchestra productions. And more often than not, audiences are filling their halls and asking for more. The appeal of good films with good orchestral music is nothing new. Iconic movies—most films by Chaplin and Hitchcock, and so many films from Disney and the great Hollywood studios—are triumphs of the integration of film and music. As the movies themselves live on thanks to cable television, DVDs, video streaming, and film festivals, so does film music. For decades, a staple of pops programming has been concert versions of popular film scores (e.g., virtually all of John Williams’s work, Disney’s Fantasia) and suites (Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije Suite, Bernstein’s Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story), sometimes enhanced with commentary from the conductor and still shots or short clips of famous scenes projected on a screen above the orchestra. More frequently in recent years, music directors are looking to film music for some of their classical series, particularly outstanding works of complexity and beauty by such giants as Herrmann, Erich Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, and Aaron Cop land. In fact, there is a respected school of thought that film scores constitute a separate, hybrid classical/musical category. Composing for this genre requires an expansive knowledge of music and film, a programmatic sensibility to reflect and advance a movie’s plot and theme, and a sharp ear for a modern musical vernacular that can take command of the impatient, suspended disbelief of modern audiences. For lovers of film and film music, the most exciting current development in decades is film with orchestra: the screening of digitally enhanced classic movies with
Photo by Stephanie Berger. Film credit: MGM HD
West Side Story at Avery Fisher Hall in September 2011, with David Newman leading the New York Philharmonic in the filmwith-orchestra version
Thanks for the Memories
One could argue that the film-with-orchestra movement began on November 5, 1987 at the sold-out Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center of Los Angeles County. Under the baton of Music Director André Previn, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed a newly reconstructed version of Sergei Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky score with the 1938 film by Russian director Sergei Eisenstein. Shown for the first time in the United States was a fresh print of the director’s original nitrate negative. The revitalized score was performed by 104 players of the Philharmonic, augmented by 130 singers from the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and featuring mezzo-soprano Christine Cairns. The driving force behind the project was John Goberman, producer of the acclaimed Live from Lincoln Center series and a onetime cellist in the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. From the time of its release, Alexander Nevsky was considered a masterpiece. But the version shown in theaters was grainy and blurred and, more disturbing, the music was distinctly tinny and badly performed by a much-too-small orchestra. As Previn described it, “The best film score ever written is trapped inside the worst soundtrack ever recorded.” The Alexander Nevsky score was obviously not “background music.” In fact, Eisenstein and Prokofiev had collaborated closely,
much as Steven Spielberg and John Williams would do decades later. The composer would often craft music to fit an already filmed and edited sequence; sometimes the director would edit scenes to fit music his collaborator had already composed. Prokofiev soon created a cantata version of the score that met with wide acclaim. For Goberman and his arranger, William D. Brohn, the challenge was to produce a score based on the cantata, but arranged for a larger orchestra and chorus that would fully match the film’s sweep and majesty. Both the Los Angeles crowd and critics were ecstatic with the results. The 1987 Alexander Nevsky production went on a heralded international tour, and has been produced many times since. “Watching that first Alexander Nevsky film-with-orchestra production was my ‘light bulb’ moment,” says Steve Linder, a senior vice president With Associate at IMG Artists who Conductor Aram handles engagements Demirjian on the for several pops conducpodium, the Kansas tors and such film-withCity Symphony orchestra productions screened Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South as Rodgers and HamPacific at Helzberg merstein at the Movies Hall last May. and West Side Story. “I remember thinking this was the most interesting thing I’d ever seen.” At the time, Linder was in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s marketing department, but would later move to the Hollywood Bowl, where he became director of preCat Szalkowski
live orchestral performance of scores that have been reconstructed and re-orchestrated for standard-size (or even chamber) ensembles.
sentations and helped develop the Bowl’s “Film Nights” and worked on projects to restore and present lost or neglected Hollywood film scores. “Film music is the ‘classical’ music of our day,” says Linder. “Excerpts and suites from scores have always been popular. The big change has been that audiences are coming to embrace full evenings of film with music.” Linder recalls that as a child the first movie he saw at Radio City Music Hall in New York City was Mary Poppins. “I had to get dressed up. I was sitting there with 6,000 other people sharing this incredible communal experience. There’s a huge difference between that experience and watching a movie on DVD in your living room.” One of the highlights of his career, Linder says, was working for almost two years with conductor/composer/music preservationist David Newman and the Leonard Bernstein Office to develop and produce a film-with-orchestra version of West Side Story for that movie’s 50th anniversary in 2011. “The original score materials and the original mixing tracks are lost,” he says, “so all we had available to reconstruct the complete movie score was the music from the Broadway version and various brief piano and orchestral arrangements which Bernstein had blessed.” It took teams of audio experts to painstakingly extract the original music, leaving the singing voices, dialogue, and audio effects as intact and authentic as possible. “Then came the challenge of reorchestrating the score,” says Linder. “The original movie recording utilized a huge Hollywood studio orchestra—probably
140 musicians, including eight pianos and tons of percussion, tons of everything. We needed realistic instrumentation sized for today’s standard symphony orchestra.” The rest, as they say, is history. In September 2011, West Side Story, golden-anniversary edition, sold out when it was shown and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and headed to Australia and Japan. What’s Up, Doc?
Orchestras of all sizes are renting remastered, often digitized versions of wellknown films and their scores, many of which have been reconstructed and/or rescored. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra presented The Wizard of Oz during its 2008-09 season to mark the film’s 70th anniversary. It subsequently presented Bugs Bunny on Broadway and Bugs Bunny at the
One could argue that the film-with-orchestra movement began in 1987, when the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed a newly reconstructed version of Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky score with Sergei Eisenstein’s 1938 film.
Symphony as well as Pirates of the Caribbean; upcoming are Fantasia and Singin’ in the Rain under the direction of Jeff Tyzik, the RPO’s longtime principal pops conductor. “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony is at the top of RPO’s all-time strongest single-ticket sales for a pops concert,” says RPO President and CEO Charles Owens. “And our other film-with-orchestra productions have been strong sellers as well. These productions have a strong cross-generational appeal. The classic titles are brands that have permeated our consciousness. RPO subscribers are ‘of a certain age,’ and our single-ticket buyers tend to be much younger. The young adults come out of curiosity and to have a great time, while the older folks come to see films and listen to music they have loved for years. Film-with-orchestra is our primary audience development tool.” It was not difficult for Rochester audiences to embrace film with orchestra, Owens points out. “For much of the 20th century, Rochester was known as the ‘Image americanorchestras.org
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City.’ We had the Eastman Kodak Company, the Eastman School of Music, and the Eastman Theatre. When our theater opened in 1922 and over many years following, it showcased silent films with live organ music on weekdays and full orchestra on weekends. Film with orchestral music is in our DNA.” Whether or not a community and its orchestra have strong ties to the film or entertainment industries, audience development is a priority for orchestra leadership everywhere. “How can we build an audience for the future if they never come to our ‘house’?” asks Frank Byrne, executive director of the Kansas City Symphony. “It would be a mistake to think of film with orchestra as either a cash cow or an easy solution to our long-term challenge.” However, Byrne says his orchestra’s new Helzberg Hall, acclaimed for its excellent acoustics and sight lines, is an ideal venue for film with orchestra. “We have 1,600 seats, but with a screen in place we can sell only 1,400. Our pops series is at least 85 percent subscribed, but the single tickets we sell are often to people who have never been in our house before.” Last season the Kansas City Symphony partnered with Butch Rigby, owner of Screenland Theatres, a popular local chain of Kansas City neighborhood movie theaters. “Butch and I had been talking about how to take advantage of Helzberg Hall’s acoustics and sound system,” Byrne recalls. The result was Screenland at the Symphony, a series of film-with-orchestra productions hosted from the stage by Rigby himself. The Kansas City audience was enthusiastic about Hitchcock! and Rodgers and Hammerstein at the Movies. “There was strong wordof-mouth and social media commentary that we don’t see that often,” says Byrne. As the orchestra looks to this season’s Screenland at the Symphony productions, Byrne says he’s convinced that film-withorchestra provides his audience with “a new point of connection and bridge to the classical repertoire. Film music is excellent music in and of itself. And our audience’s strong response to these film events thus far proves that orchestras can still connect.” The ability of film-with-orchestra to attract new and bigger audiences has been the driver of the San Francisco Symphony’s recent investment in film projects. After last summer’s sold-out Video Games Live, The Matrix, Disney in Concert, and Battleamericanorchestras.org
“Film-with-orchestra is our primary audience development tool,” says Rochester Philharmonic President and CEO Charles Owens. ship Potemkin, tickets are moving rapidly for the symphony’s 2013-14 subscription film-with-orchestra series featuring the films and music of Hitchcock and Herrmann, including the world premiere of the film-with-orchestra version of Vertigo; four “Saturday Concerts with Film”; and a holiday performance of White Christmas. “After several years of successful filmwith-orchestra productions, in our 2011-12 centennial season we commissioned some serious research focused on current concert attendees and people who were not attending our concerts but who were ‘culturally aware’ in that they attended opera or ballet or visited local museums,” explains John Mangum, the San Francisco Symphony’s director of artistic planning. “People we surveyed and talked to are interested in interdisciplinary, multi-sensory experiences.
We also found that people of all ages like the idea of new experiences that keep the orchestra at the center of attention. This finding led us to look at a variety of programming, including film. Our new film series reflects this.” Sounds of Silents
It is difficult to quantify or categorize—or even give a definitive name to—the filmwith-orchestra trend. Is it “symphonic cinema?” “orchestral film?” “orchestra with film?” “symphonic night at the movies”? Also still to be determined is the pace at which more contemporary films are transformed into film-with-orchestra “products.” Probably the largest provider of such products today is IMG Artists’ Film with Orchestra Division, which lists sixteen titles, from Casablanca to A Night at the Oscars to West Side Story. The Disney Concert Library offers four titles, including Disney Live in Concert and Fantasia. Offerings from Columbia Artists Management Inc. include three titles from the Lord of the Rings cycle. Columbia Artists Music (which is independent from Columbia
director, and composer.” Artists Management) ofKraemer points out that fers The Matrix Live. And the City Lights score is Warner Brothers has colchallenging for both orlaborated with the British chestra and conductor. In Film Institute on a filmcontrast to sound films that with-orchestra version of have been adapted to the 2001: A Space Odyssey. film-with-orchestra forSilent films presented mat, Chaplin’s productions with either their original come with no audio cueing scores or newly composed or bar counters or clocks. ones are another impor“The conductor’s printed tant, and popular, form of “City Lights is one of score has visual cues, but film-with-orchestra pre- the greatest movies sentation. Preservationists ever made,” says Butler other than that you’re on your own,” says Kraemer. have worked over decades County Symphony “There’s no stopping. It’s to discover and restore Music Director immediately and painfully numerous silent films and evident to the audience if their scores. The earliest Matthew Kraemer. The the orchestra is behind or silent films were accom- score is challenging, ahead of what’s happening panied by a piano or or- however; Chaplin’s on the screen.” gan soloist who borrowed films come with no As orchestras have anpopular or classical tunes audio cueing or bar nounced their 2013-14 to emphasize the action on counters or clocks. seasons, it’s clear that the screen; at some point, Chaplin will be widely celebrated. Roy they started to compose bridge music to Export S.A.S., the company that owns bring together the borrowed melodies. the Chaplin films made from 1918 onEventually, silent movies included original wards, is making available rental copies music or hybrid arrangements of origiof 35mm and digital versions of six feanal and published music, along with cue ture films, including City Lights, The Gold sheets to guide the accompanist or orchesRush, and Modern Times, along with a half tra conductor in synchronizing the music dozen short films. The scores are based on with the film. the restoration and reconstruction work of Perhaps the ultimate pioneering artist composer-arranger Timothy Brock, who in film direction, acting, and music comwas hired by the Chaplin family to restore position is Charlie Chaplin. And in 2014, and perform Chaplin’s scores. Most of the the worlds of film and orchestral music are scores call for full orchestra, although most collaborating to mark both the 125th anof the films also have chamber-orchestra niversary of Chaplin’s birth and the 100th versions for venues of 700 or fewer seats. anniversary of his first appearance as the From Milan to Bremen to Kyoto, from now-iconic Tramp character. Anchorage to Winnipeg to Butler and Joining this global celebration of ChapLexington, at least 60 film-with-orcheslin’s films and film music is Matthew tra performances of Chaplin films are set Kraemer, music director of Pennsylvania’s for 2013-14. The Los Angeles Chamber Butler County Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra is leveraging its proximity to Erie Chamber Orchestra and associate Hollywood and its aptitude for innovaconductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic tive programming in a June production of Orchestra. Kraemer has scheduled a NoChaplin’s Modern Times and Kid Auto Races vember 2 presentation of City Lights with at Venice, with Timothy Brock conducting his Butler County orchestra, its first filmChaplin’s score. with-orchestra production. Selling the idea to his board of directors, Kraemer says, was no problem. “I simply asked the question, Over the Rainbow ‘What if we can provide our audience an As orchestras grapple with the challenges affordable, rich musical experience in a of audience development and financial highly unique and exciting format?’ City sustainability, the film-with-orchestra Lights is one of the greatest movies ever genre seems to be a win-win-win propomade. It’s Chaplin at his best as an actor, sition: orchestra management, orchestra
musicians, and audiences are embracing it. Asked to reflect on the Pacific Symphony’s recent near-marathon series of film-withorchestra projects, President John Forsyte says, “We are pleased with our audience’s positive response to film. Some of our symphonic cinema programs draw as many patrons as our successful pops programs. They also tend to be less expensive than pops programs featuring high-end soloists.” Forsyte notes that the odds for a successful film-with-orchestra investment are stronger if the conductor and orchestra are enthusiastic. The Pacific Symphony’s principal pops conductor, Richard Kaufman, spent decades in the Hollywood film industry leading major projects at MetroGoldwyn-Mayer Studios and MGM television. “Our conductor and so many of our musicians,” says Forsyte, “have living, working relationships with the leading film composers, starting with the so-called ‘golden age’ and to the present day. We feel that we ‘curate’ performances of the great movie scores, in the sense that our musicians have deep knowledge, respect, and passion for these works. They’re in the Pacific Symphony’s DNA. In these scores is an intrinsic demand for clarity and conveying the drama of the sound. The musicians understand the vocabulary and style of the composers, because in many cases they studied under and performed for those composers. To play the 101-minute score from Wizard of Oz is uplifting. But after playing a difficult score—for no less than Judy Garland—musicians are fatigued at the end of the evening.” There are a few cautionary tales about film-with-orchestra. Forsyte admits that while many people love film-with-orchestra, “there will always be those who just prefer to see a live performance by a living performer.” In San Francisco, John Mangum says his musicians enjoy film projects, “as long as we do not shift the orchestra’s focus from classical music. However, they realize that the music from these great movies reaches the threshold of quality for both audiences and musicians.” MICHAEL STUGRIN writes about the arts and resides in Long Beach, California. He is co-author of Music Looks Forward: The Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, 1934-2009 (2010) and author of the forthcoming Eat Your Memories: Views from Los Altos.
Exceptional Programming, Exceptional Artists, Broadway & so much more! BPI proudly welcomes: Shalom Broadway! ™
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Celebrate the rich heritage of Broadway from Synagogue Melodies, the Yiddish Theater, Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood to today’s hit Broadway shows. Berlin, Bernstein, Bock, Gershwin, Hamlisch Hammerstein, Kern, Rodgers, Sondheim, Schwartz, Styne, Weill and others are featured on this historic journey interwoven with traditional Jewish music. Starring Oscar 'Andy' Hammerstein III, grandson of the beloved librettist and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, and author of “The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family”. Thrill to the brilliant music of SOUTH PACIFIC, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, STATE FAIR, THE KING AND I, CAROUSEL and OKLAHOMA! A favorite for audiences of all ages!
Offering SOLD-OUT programs featuring Pop, Rock, Country, Oscars, Motown, Jazz, Opera and Broadway! • • • • •
Cincinnati Pops: Springer Auditorium, 3516 seats Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra: Kleinhans Music Hall, 2839 seats Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra: DeVos Performance Hall, 2404 seats Tucson Symphony Orchestra: Tucson Music Hall, 2289 seats Long Island Philharmonic: Tilles Center's Concert Hall, 2242 seats * This is a sampling; not all sold-out shows are represented.
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Guide to Symphony’s Pops Advertisers
The following paid listings have been supplied to Symphony by League of American
Orchestras business partners who represent pops attractions and conductors in the
areas of pops performance. What follows does not imply endorsement by the League of American Orchestras or Symphony. It is not intended to be fully comprehensive, but to be a reference point for orchestra professionals charged with pops programming.
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P R E S E N T S
ERICH KUNZEL Conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
J A C K E V E R LY
Principal Pops Conductor,
Principal Pops Conductor,
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
The New York Pops
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra National Arts Centre Orchestra Naples Philharmonic Orchestra
Principal Pops Conductor, National Symphony Orchestra Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Symphonic Pops Consortium
Music Director, National Memorial Day Concert & A Capitol Fourth on PBS
Peter Throm, President
Principal Pops Conductor for Conductor, • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Symphony/Pops Atlanta Symphony Orchestra • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Houston Symphony • National Arts Centre Orchestra
Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra
Music Director, Principal Pops Conductor for The Philly Pops •
Modesto Symphony Orchestra • Long Beach Symphony Orchestra Associate Conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
www.PeterThrom.com www.PeterThrom.com | 734.222.8030 (office) | 734.277.1008 (mobile) Peter Throm, President email@example.com | 2040 Tibbitts Court, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
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Symphonic Spectacular Peter Throm Management, LLC email@example.com peterthrom.com Symphonic Spectacular – See the Music! is a symphonic concert featuring the world’s best-known symphonic music enhanced with video imagery, stunning lighting, and other visual effects, conducted by Michael Krajewski. Jonathan Tessero Dispeker Artists, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org dispeker.com
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Ann Hampton Callaway Marilyn Rosen Presents LLC firstname.lastname@example.org marilynrosenpresents.com Dukes of Dixieland email@example.com dukesofdixieland.com Steve Lippia in “Simply Sinatra Christmas” Andersen and Associates, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org andersenreps.com New York Voices Marilyn Rosen Presents LLC email@example.com marilynrosenpresents.com Will and Anthony Nunziata Marilyn Rosen Presents LLC firstname.lastname@example.org marilynrosenpresents.com Sandi Patty JRA Fine Arts email@example.com jrafinearts.com Jim Stephenson, Conductor Stephenson Music firstname.lastname@example.org stephensonmusic.com Jim Stephenson’s pops shows combine great arrangements with humor and warm, relaxed stage presence for both orchestra and audience. When conducting, his popular arrangements (100 orchestras annually) are included free.
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Mary Ann Halpin
Laurie Gayle Stephenson and Steve Amerson Classical Concert Productions email@example.com classiccp.com Dynamic Duo Sensational Soloists! Christmas/Holiday Pops with amazing vocalists, America’s Tenor Steve Amerson and Broadway star (Phantom of the Opera) Laurie Gayle Stephenson. Artists’ own charts. No rental cost!
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Dukes of Dixieland email@example.com dukesofdixieland.com Grammy-nominated Dukes of Dixieland have been active on the New Orleans scene and internationally since 1974, when they performed their first pops concert in Chicago with the Grant Park Symphony. They performed most recently with the Boston Pops, with many performances in between. Brian Gaber, Composer Jersey Music firstname.lastname@example.org BrianGaber.com The Great American SongbookTM With a Special Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch! Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com Kahuna Beach Party firstname.lastname@example.org kahunabeachparty.com
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Christopher Alden’s May 2013 production of Le Nozze di Figaro at Walt Disney Concert Hall was part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s multi-season presentation of the three Mozart-Da Ponte operas. From left: John Del Carlo, Edwin Crossley-Mercer, Ann Murray
Nights at the Opera
A venerable tradition is revitalizing the orchestra experience.
otal immersion: that was the radical brand of opera Richard Wagner hoped to inaugurate at Bayreuth. To enhance its effect, he famously made the “invisible orchestra” an integral part of his design. Yet the overall ideal of intensified theatrical illusion remained frustratingly out of reach, hampered by the limitations of the stage technology of the time. Cosima Wagner reported her husband’s sardonic joke in the aftermath of his deep disappointment over the first complete Ring: “Now that I’ve created the invisible orchestra, I’d like to invent the invisible stage!” The concert hall has meanwhile long provided an appealing milieu in which to experience opera with another kind of im-
Craig T. Mathew & Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging/Los Angeles Philharmonic
by Thomas May
mediacy—one that focuses on the musical dimension of this most collaborative of the arts and, far from disguising the orchestra, features it as the central character. And recent innovations that involve this format for presenting opera are even helping, in some cases, to redefine the orchestra’s institutional identity and sense of mission. A new era of co-productions involving artists from other disciplines, the choice of thematically meaningful repertoire, marketing centered around concerts that include a visual and theatrical element as a special “event” of the season: all these are different facets of how opera in the concert hall has evolved in recent years. The links between some of America’s most venerable orchestral institutions and opera are deeply rooted, whether in concert presentations (Frederick Stock’s legendary Tristan with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1935 and Dimitri Mitropoulos’s programming of complete operas with the New York Philharmonic in the 1950s) or symphony
Curtain call at the Akron Symphony’s performances of Porgy and Bess in 2011, with (left to right) Brian Keith Johnson (Jake), Marquita Lister (Bess), Christopher Wilkins (music director), Alvy Powell (Porgy), and Lester Lynch (Crown)
in full productions actually in the opera house, such as the U.S. premiere of Wozzeck in 1931, which featured the Philadelphia Orchestra under Stokowski. “Opera in the concert hall in its recent manifestations can be seen as the continuation of a long tradition,” says Evans Mirageas, who has a rare dual perspective as vice president for artistic planning at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the Cincinnati Opera. “It’s always been a goal of the finest conductors to make certain that their orchestras have exposure to opera.” Seiji Ozawa, Mirageas points out, was especially fond of programming opera for symphony orchestras. “He used to say that every instrumentalist is looking to imitate the human voice. And so what better way to continue to instill in orchestral players the idea of singing with their instruments than working with singers on a regular basis?” Anthony Fogg, Boston Symphony Orchestra’s artistic administrator, points out the complex layers of operatic tradition americanorchestras.org
Music Director Robert Spano leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, June 2011.
at the BSO. “One area of opera activity is what happens at Tanglewood, dating back to its beginnings with Koussevitzky and Boris Goldovsky, when it gave the American premieres of Peter Grimes and Idomeneo. And with the orchestra itself there have been several approaches. Seiji did some operas purely in concert and others semi-staged, and some in elaborate stagings. These would involve some creative solution to the absence of an orchestra pit. James Levine made opera an integral part of his programming but opted for a more traditional concert approach.” The young generation of orchestra music directors continues to see advantages in performing opera. This is clear from recent programming choices by Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ludovic Morlot at the Seattle Symphony, Alan Gilbert at the New York Philharmonic, and (in his European assignments) Andris Nelsons, the Boston
The Utah Symphony | Utah Opera merged in 2002. Pictured: Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins, with dancer Liberty Valentine as Anna II, in 2003
Led by Music Director Alan Gilbert, the New York Philharmonic’s 2010 performances of Ligeti’s absurdist opera Le Grand Macabre featured elaborate sets and costumes as well as live and recorded video.
Symphony’s new music director-designate. But what does an orchestra actually gain from playing opera? “Gustavo feels that for an orchestra to remain great, they have to play opera,” says Chad Smith, vice president of artistic planning for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “The way the orchestra needs to balance to be heard—the laser-quick responses between them, the conductor, and the singers—requires a different kind of playing and listening.” A passion for this repertoire on the part of music directors also gives a keen insight into their aesthetic agenda. The Cleveland Orchestra’s Franz Welser-Möst, who likewise serves as general music director of Vienna Staatsoper, made a significant statement about opera as part of his largescale vision by ending his first full season in Cleveland with a concert performance of Verdi’s Don Carlo. Nigel Boon, the National Symphony Orchestra’s director of artistic planning, suggests that the specialization of repertoire sharply divided between
“With these projects we’re trying to take part in a contemporary conversation about the role of classical music in our society,” observes Smith. “That’s why we’re engaging architects or video artists or choreographers to create new works for us and to engage in a dialogue with artists in other disciplines. So instead of just revisiting the past with the Mozart operas, it’s about creating something new. And it’s risky! You don’t always know what will result when you get into it.” Each production features a different Allison Another part of the allure, leading architect as scenic designer, Vulgamore, which flies in the face of our along with high-profile figures from president era of hyper-reproducible the fashion world who create the and CEO cultural artifacts, is the sense costumes. Frank Gehry, the archi- of the of a special event, “uniquely tect of Disney Hall itself, launched Philadelphia produced for our Los Angeles the project in 2012 with a sculptural Orchestra, audiences, with unique coninstallation displaying his signature is especially tent that you can’t experience crumpled textures and serving as intrigued by the anywhere else,” says Smith. the set for Don Giovanni. The advantages of col“What I find fascinating about orchestra’s laborating with other artists this project is how each architect is new from a region informed one reinventing and experimenting with partnership of the Seattle Symphony’s the space,” remarks Chad Smith. “In with Opera biggest successes in the final Don Giovanni, for example, the or- Philadelphia, years of former Music Direcchestra occupied a deep black space set to debut tor Gerard Schwarz’s tenure: behind the action, which took place in May 2014. Schwarz commissioned the amid the starkly contrasting white glass artist Dale Chihuly—a space, within the warm and sensual Northwest icon—to design context of the concert hall.” sculptures for each of the sevThe Mozart project represents en doors for a concert perforonly one initiative among several mance of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s operatic and theatrical innovations Castle in 2007. (In 2009 Chihuly’s wife, in recent seasons under Music Director Leslie Jackson Chihuly, was named chair of Gustavo Dudamel. They have been farthe Seattle Symphony’s board.) In an apranging. Other examples include Oliver pealing twist, Chihuly’s designs have since Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are (based traveled far beyond Seattle and have been on the beloved Maurice Sendak children’s revived for Bluebeard performances by the book); the West Coast premiere of Peter Nashville and Milwaukee symphonies, as Eötvös’s operatic take on Tony Kushner’s well as by the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv. Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America; and The Gospel According to the Other Mary, the most recent stage work by New Audiences, New Partnerships composer John Adams, currently creative Bringing added dimensions to the concert chair with the LA Phil. The Other Mary, a experience has been part of the mission of retelling of the Passion story via a collage the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under of biblical and secular texts, was presented Music Director Robert Spano, an inveterate in distinctive formats over two seasons: opera lover who led several significant confirst as an unstaged concert event (think cert opera performances in his days with the contemporary oratorio) and then in a fullBrooklyn Philharmonic. Evans Mirageas scale staging by Peter Sellars. describes the aesthetic of “theater of a conRyan Donnell
Charles Dutoit leads a concert version of Strauss’s Elektra with the Philadelphia Orchestra, 2011.
symphonic and operatic fare is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the days when it was common practice to learn the art of conducting as part of a long apprenticeship in the opera house—as it was for, say, Mahler—the norm was for orchestra conductors to be at home in both worlds. When the search was on for the Chicago Symphony’s new music director, according to Martha Gilmer, vice president for artistic planning and audience development, “audiences were obviously interested in someone who had an impressive background in the opera house as well,” as evidenced by their clear enthusiasm for Riccardo Muti. The choice of Muti, whose inaugural season featured a highly praised concert Otello that traveled to Carnegie Hall, underscored the understanding that “performing opera is part of the DNA of this orchestra and belongs to the continuum of its repertoire,” says Gilmer. Transforming the Concert Experience
Longstanding as this tradition is, however, opera in the concert hall has also become a vehicle for trying out some of the most interesting new ideas about the very identity of the orchestra in the 21st century. Two epicenters of this kind of experimentation are found on opposite coasts. The Los Angeles Philharmonic has crowned its past two seasons with installments in an ongoing three-year project of presenting all of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas, beginning with Don Giovanni, continuing this past May with Figaro, and culminating in May 2014 with Così fan tutte. Each presentation features a set specifically designed to fit the Disney Hall space.
cert” that has been devised under Spano’s tenure: “This encompasses opera, oratorio, and even occasional symphonic evenings, and refers to the desire to present a musical experience that’s visually as well as aurally stimulating to engage the audience.” Along with concert presentations of both familiar and contemporary operas, “theater of a concert” has been applied to works such as Bach’s B minor Mass and Górecki’s Third Symphony (the latter accompanied by Anne Patterson’s videographic images). “It’s become an imperative of our incredibly visual age to engage audiences, especially younger ones,” Mirageas says. “That doesn’t mean putting up pretty pictures when playing the Beethoven Fifth. But it does mean that when you have opportunity to present works with visual accompaniment for which it is appropriate, you should do it.” Allison Vulgamore, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, was part of the team that helped develop the model of “theater of a concert” when she held the same position with the Atlanta Symphony. Since taking the reins in Philadelphia, she has continued to explore concert formats that are theatrically enhanced, even if, as she points out, the work being performed isn’t an opera, such as the past spring’s performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with staging by James Alexander, which paired vocal soloists in “duets” with the obbligato instruments in the arias. Vulgamore is especially intrigued by the orchestra’s new partnership with Opera Philadelphia, set to debut in May 2014 with a co-production of Strauss’s Salome—a score
she says was selected “because the writing calls for the Philadelphia sound.” Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin drew on his experience and contacts in the opera world for the casting, while Opera Philadelphia will be responsible for the staging elements. “We don’t know yet what shape these scenic pieces will take,” says Vulgamore. “It’s like having a creative tool chest that includes sculpture, costumes, potential ramps, lighting. All of this will come alive on the stage of Verizon Hall, the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, as executed by Opera Philadelphia. We don’t want to do predictable.” Even more, the opportunity for a “collaborative co-production partnership”—as Vulgamore terms the dynamic between the two entities—will entail several layers of learning: “musical, theatrical, managerial, and fundraising” in order to build “something we can revisit, in a way that leverages each other’s audiences, rather than just an impromptu collaboration.” Vulgamore points out that disappointment over the box-office results of last year’s concert performance of Elektra marking the end of Charles Dutoit’s tenure helped inspire this innovative approach. And already there’s a payoff: Vulgamore says the number of performances originally scheduled has already proved inadequate to meet demand. Another experiment in collaboration has been underway in Salt Lake City since 2002, when Utah Symphony and Utah Opera took the unusual step of merging. “Doing semi-staged opera is something of a signature event, yet since we’re also an opera company it’s not as exceptional as it might
Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Verdi’s Otello, April 2011, at Symphony Center.
be elsewhere,” explains Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera. Tourangeau points out that a presentation of Leonard Bernstein’s rockinfused Mass sold out two nights in a row “in a very conservative state.” “Our orchestra really enjoys playing opera—it’s the same ensemble for the opera company—and so they already get that experience in the opera house,” says Tourangeau. “At the same time, the symphony and the opera company each has its own identity, so it’s been a real challenge to merge those identities. In a sense it’s become more of a challenge to try to unmerge them, especially when it comes to planning. For opera you’re planning many years out, versus two years for the symphony.” (For more on mergers and creative partnerships, see “Allied Forces” in Symphony’s Summer 2013 issue.) The Event Business
The initiative to rethink the orchestra’s role and identity as an institution has also been attracting major foundation support, with results directly impacting the presentation of opera in the concert hall. In 2011, for example, the Akron Symphony was able to perform Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess under Music Director Christopher Wilkins after receiving a $150,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For that production, auditions for the chorus as well as many of the solo roles were limited to local residents. In April 2013 the Cleveland Orchestra received a $2.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to underwrite “artistically ambitious programming,” which singled out new approaches involving opera and ballet. Cleveland Orchestra Executive Director Gary Hanson says the Mellon grant “is a reflection of our focus in many areas of programming, including opera, where there’s a direct relationship between enhancing artistic excellence and what is understood to have value for the community.” On the artistic side, Hanson says, “Franz [Welser-Möst] believes that an orchestra’s performance of a Mozart symphony or a Strauss tone poem is made better if that orchestra has had direct and significant experience performing the operas of Mozart and Strauss.” Performances of opera in Severance Hall have also been generating interest among new concertgoers who, Hanson
says, “wouldn’t be attracted to what looks like a standard subscription concert.” Hanson grows expansive on the issue of the former subscription model and the advantage of presenting this repertoire: “We always knew opera in the concert hall would be important artistically, when Franz announced this as part of his agenda in 2002. But back then most of us didn’t recognize the societal changes that were going to gradually take institutions like the Cleveland Orchestra out of the subscription business and into the event business.” Since single-ticket sales have been on the rise, he says, “You have to create a program overall which has more identifiable events in it. The great thing about opera is that it’s so close to the core of what we do already and it is seen legitimately as a big event.” The “big event,” though, doesn’t necessarily have to promise staging elements as elaborate—or as expensive—as those on display in Disney Hall. Hanson explains that Cleveland’s operas in concert can range across a spectrum, with or without costumes, lighting, and sets. “But in my book, the threshold between straightforward concert performance and so-called semi-staged opera is whether there’s some
Audrey Elizabeth Luna as Zerbinetta in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ariadne auf Naxos at Tanglewood, August 2010
kind of gestural interaction between the characters, even if, from a snapshot, it might look like a concert reading.” At the Chicago Symphony, Martha Gilmer recalls that under Daniel Barenboim, the CSO was known for doing fully staged operas, but Muti (whose memoir is tellingly titled Prima la Musica, Poi le Parole) distinctly prefers no-frills presentations. “He is of course a man of the opera house, but his focus is on the music when conducting opera in the concert hall,” Gilmer says. “I think he’s all or nothing: either you do it fully staged in the opera house or you do it concert-style.” One orchestra that has promoted its recent operas-in-concert as must-see events in their own right is the New York Philharmonic. Lionized modernist though György Ligeti is, his ingeniously satirical, cartoonishly dystopian “anti-opera” Le Grand Macabre from the late 1970s was long overdue for its New York premiere when Alan Gilbert presided over three performances in 2010 at the end of his first season as music director. Incredibly, these sold out—the clever marketing featured YouTube clips with Gilbert and spotlights of the absurdist costumes. Gilbert’s Ligeti adventure was perceived as “one way that Mr. Gilbert is taking the Philharmonic into the 21st century,” as Anthony Tommasini wrote in The New York Times. The semi-staged multimedia production, designed and directed by Doug Finch, proved to be one of the season’s highlights. The following season, Gilbert, Finch, and the Philharmonic offered a concert-hall version of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. When Dallas Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducted the first act of Die Walküre last spring, according to DSO President and CEO Jonathan Martin, “We played to 98 percent capacity for an audience that was very diverse in terms of age, all over the map—and their reaction was phenomenal.” Even as an unstaged concert presentation, it was greeted as a special event.
“The traditional concert length may also be a more user-friendly introduction to Wagner for an audience not seeking to spend a four- to five-hour evening in the theater,” says Martin. Despite the incremental expenses involved even in this simpler form of concert opera, Martin thinks there has been “a renewed interest in opera in the concert hall,” adding that “there’s no shortage in our mind of opera-in-concert possibilities.” The sense of event can also be enhanced by the context of the programming, according to Nigel Boon. He refers to the Kennedy Center’s “Music of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna” festival in 2012, when National Symphony Orchestra Music Director Christoph Eschenbach presented both Fidelio and Bluebeard’s Castle as part of a larger exploration of themes related to the Habsburg Empire and its capital cities. Sometimes this can simply be a matter of thoughtful coordination as well. The NSO’s Kennedy Center neighbor, Washington National Opera, opens this Wagner bicentennial season with Tristan und Isolde, which Eschenbach will complement the following month with a concert performance of the third act of Parsifal. (Next spring, on the occasion of Strauss’s 150th anniversary, also brings a full concert performance of Der Rosenkavalier by the NSO.) Bluebeard’s Castle has proved especially amenable to the “event”-driven presentation of opera in the concert hall—for which, incidentally, Bartók’s orchestrally expansive one-act score seems almost tailormade, while any opera house that schedules the work needs to figure out an appropriately paired double billing for the evening. In April 2012 the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas showcased their technologically impressive, Frank Gehry-designed New World Center venue in Miami Beach with a production of Bluebeard using special projections designed by London-based video artist Nick Hillel. Critic Charlotte Libov praised the performance for evoking Bartók’s eerie world, writing that, in addition to the gloomy Duke and his ill-fated new wife Judith, “the third character was the New World Center itself, which is ringed by large, curved acoustical ‘sails’ upon which images can be projected.” (The San Francisco Symphony presented that production of Bluebeard’s Castle later the same season.) Hillel and his long-term collaborators, Nick Corrigan symphony
and Kate Mogridge, had originally created the production for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. The Philharmonia incorporates digital productions into concert performances via Rite Digital, a digital production company it owns that creates websites, films, installations, and production pieces such as Bluebeard’s Castle. A Different Take on Opera
This fall Muti honors the bicentennial of Verdi’s birth with a concert version of Macbeth, neatly timed to complement Lyric Opera of Chicago’s season-opening production of Otello. Along with the ubiquitous Wagner bicentennial celebrations, the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s birth this year has given further incentive for orchestras to pay tribute. While works such as the Violin Concerto and Simple Symphony have been cropping up in programs, Britten is much more often associated in the public mind with the opera house than the concert hall. The San Francisco Symphony has planned its first-ever performances of the complete Peter Grimes under Michael Tilson Thomas in June 2014 in a semi-staged presentation to conclude a four-week-long Britten celebration. And this isn’t the only chance to experience a symphonically detailed performance of Peter Grimes this season without setting foot in the opera house. Following a performance in St. Louis, David Robertson will mark the official centennial date of November 22 by taking the St. Louis Symphony to Carnegie Hall to perform Britten’s breakthrough opera. Yet beyond the obvious anniversary billing, what, after all, are the chief criteria for choosing concert opera repertoire—and to what extent is this perceived as an intrusion into the home opera company’s turf? When the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced its artistically ambitious MozartDa Ponte project, speculations naturally arose that this would generate uncomfortable tensions with LA Opera, located just across the street from Disney Hall. In one way, these perceived fears mirror the worries about “cannibalization” of the audience that used to be heard when the Met began its far-reaching program of HD broadcasts in the cinema. Not surprisingly, the emphatically recurring response from artistic planners of orchestral institutions is that such ventures need entail no problematic competition. “Certainly we’re in discussion americanorchestras.org
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with LA Opera when we program these events,” says Chad Smith, “and we have no intention of competing in that realm. LA Opera has a world-class company of its own; for us it’s about creating projects that serve multiple purposes.” And sometimes orchestras step in to fill cultural gaps, as the Pacific Symphony has been doing over the last few years since Opera Pacific went out of business. In the coming season, the Pacific Symphony will present a semi-staged Traviata led by Music Director Carl St.Clair and directed by A. Scott Parry. Evans Mirageas has a particularly useful perspective thanks to his positions with the Atlanta Symphony and Cincinnati Opera. “In Atlanta we’re very careful about not ‘stealing the audience’ from Atlanta Opera. We schedule our operas after their season has ended. And our goals are different. Semi-staged opera is exactly that: a hybrid. An opera company’s goal is to present the entire theatrical experience in a darkened house.” Melia Tourangeau emphasizes the distinct difference in audience expectations she sees in Utah. “I think opera in the concert hall is a great way to introduce symphony audiences to opera, but for our opera audiences, it’s all about the full package, the whole experience in a theater. Their thinking is: why would you bother to perform it in the concert hall since you’re already producing opera and serving my need?” The operatic resources of a given city clearly influence the choice of repertoire. “It might be operas that the local opera americanorchestras.org
house couldn’t afford to do,” says Mirageas. “Boston was a great example. In Seiji’s era, there was no company that could mount Elektra and Salome.” This past summer, the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood presented the U.S. premiere of a significant new opera, George Benjamin’s highly acclaimed Written on Skin. And the Boston Symphony itself has programmed two theatrical presentations this season: Golijov’s St. Mark Passion and, with Nelsons on the podium, Salome. “The bottom line for choosing this repertory,” according to Anthony Fogg, “is that we want to do something that will be really distinctive— whether because of the score’s orchestral dimension or the nature of the presentation itself.” “We’re all seeing how far we can stretch both venues in the future,” remarks Vulgamore about the orchestra-opera collaboration. “Opera Philadelphia may want to know more about the capacity of Verizon Hall, and we might do a theatrical work that isn’t an opera at their home in the Academy of Music.” She hopes others will find this collaboration to be “a model not just for the two companies but for a city,” inspiring them to see that the symphony and opera company serving the same market “are not competitive entities.” The one common denominator for any conductor embarking on opera in the concert hall—whether it’s Wagner, Strauss, Verdi, Mozart, Britten, or Adams—is a score that features the orchestra prominently. While Wagner wanted to hide the players from view, all the better to enhance the power of the music emerging from the “mystic abyss” separating the audience and the stage, opera in the concert hall allows for a greater clarity and focus on musical qualities in themselves. “When you attend an opera by the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall,” says Gary Hanson, “the most important thing becomes what you hear, even if it’s fully staged. You’re more likely to remember hearing than seeing Così fan tutte, because the musical strength of the experience was that powerful.” Thomas May writes about music and the arts for many publications, including the program books of the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Symphony, and contributes criticism to crosscut.com.
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9/4/05, 12:21 PM 57
Mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina at the opening gala of the Mariinsky II Theatre, May 2013. Borodina’s career, like those of other prominent singers from the Mariinsky Opera, was nurtured by Gergiev.
The brand-new Mariinsky II Theatre sits across the Kryukov Canal from the original 1860 opera house built under Tsar Alexander II, the back of which can be seen reflected in the windows.
by Jennifer Melick
Yekaterina Kondaurova and Yevgeny Ivanchenko of the Mariinsky Ballet, May 2013
is the morning of May 2, 2013, the day the spanking-new 2,000-seat Mariinsky II Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia is set to officially open. Valery Gergiev is at a press conference in the upstairs lobby, where he has been speaking to a squadron of invited journalists for a half-hour, without showing any sign of stopping. “The Mariinsky II ushers us into a new era of expanded artistic possibilities and service for wider audiences,” says the maestro in his trademark gravelly voice. “Twenty or 25 years from now, I hope this theater will be seen as a cultural giant amongst those famous opera houses in the world. It will be always seen as
a younger brother or sister of the original Mariinsky,” the back of which is visible through the windows of Mariinsky II. “The Russian emperor Alexander II decided to give his wife, Maria, a gift. Word is that it took eleven months to build this opera house. Russian tsars were quick! And they were very smart. Like the Medicis, they invested in culture like those people who did Rome, or Florence.” Name-checking Russian tsars and the Medicis might seem a bit over the top, but there’s no denying that Gergiev and his company have had a big year. Unlike the speedy one-year time frame for the original theater made for Empress Maria in 1860, however, getting the new Mariinsky built symphony
Valery Gergiev has put the Mariinsky Theatre at the nexus of culture, power, and politics in Russia. Could this sort of accomplishment be replicated anywhere else? was a ten-year process, interrupted partway through when the original architect, Dominique Perrault, was fired and a new architect (eventually the Canadian firm of Diamond Schmitt Architects) had to be found. The Mariinsky now consists of three big pieces, the two largest being the 1860 opera house (Mariinsky I) and now Mariinsky II, which serve as shared homes for the company’s opera and ballet companies. Then there’s the 1,100-seat concert hall, just a few blocks away, built in 2006, where the Mariinsky Orchestra performs concerts and makes audio recordings. Mariinsky I—with its frothy, wedding-cake exterior, sumptuous gold-and-blue curtain, and green velvet chairs—is more striking than americanorchestras.org
either of the newer spaces. And of course it has its illustrious history: world premieres of works by Glinka, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Shostakovich. The roster of the orchestra has just been upped from 180 to 250 musicians, who play in operas, ballets, and orchestra concerts at the three St. Petersburg venues, as well as on the company’s frequent tours within and outside of Russia. Mariinsky I, however beautiful, is badly in need of upgrades—new opera productions can take several days to set up, and some cannot be mounted there at all. Despite their more bland exteriors—some have taken to calling the newest theater “the Mariinsky Mall”—both the Mariin-
sky II and the concert hall shine sonically and functionally, at least judging by this spring’s celebratory opening events. At the opening gala at Mariinsky II, singers, dancers, soloists, and orchestra performed on a stage that moved every whichway, displaying its technical prowess and flexibility. The acoustics are excellent. In addition to stateof-the-art backstage facilities, Mariinsky II also boasts an open-air rooftop theater for outdoor summer performances during the White Nights Festival. Taken together, the three Mariinsky structures are nothing less than an aspiring Lincoln Center-style complex grafted onto, and fitting tightly into, the existing cityscape, lacking only infrastructure such as connecting walkways,
Valery Gergiev leads the Mariinsky Orchestra
center of his country’s culture. Is it even possible to replicate this anywhere else in the world?
The Mariinsky Sound
trees, and a nearby subway stop. (These elements await additional funding.) If you Google the words “Mariinsky Theatre” and “director,” the results will produce pages of articles about Valery Gergiev. For all intents and purposes, Gergiev is the Mariinsky today. This October marks a big milestone for Gergiev: 25 years running the Mariinsky Theatre—the umbrella organization for the opera, ballet, and orchestra— beginning in 1988 as artistic director and since 1996 as general director. The Mariinsky, of course, is not the only game in town. St. Petersburg is also home to other classical-music organizations of stature, starting with the highly regarded St. Petersburg Philharmonic (formerly the Leningrad Philharmonic), which was founded in 1882 and performs at its own hall on Mikhailovskaya Street. The Philharmonic may be best known to Western listeners for its volcanic performances of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich under the legendary Evgeny Mravinsky (193888), many of which were recorded on the Melodiya label. Since 1988 the orchestra has been under the direction of the more peripatetic Yuri Temirkanov, also principal guest conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and music director from 2000 to 2006 of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. (From 1976 to 1988, Temirkanov was artistic director at the Mariinsky.) There’s also the prestigious Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatory, across the street from
Mariinsky I. The St. Petersburg Chamber Opera Company—established in 1987 by theater director Yuri Alexandrov, who still serves as director—performs a variety of smaller-scale operas in an ornate nineteenth-century white-and-gold theater on Galernaya Street. The Philharmonic and Chamber Opera present full seasons and are not insubstantial by any means. To put things in perspective, however, the tiny Chamber Opera would have to do more than twelve performances to sell the same number of tickets as one performance in the new Mariinsky II. Figures on the amount of state and private support for St. Petersburg’s arts organizations are not publicly available, but the ability to get the government to fund a $700 million theater suggests that the reach and resources of the Mariinsky are very great indeed. Gergiev’s achievements at the Mariinsky have given him the kind of outsized fame reminiscent of Leonard Bernstein’s in America beginning in the 1950s. In the U.S. today, the closest we might come to this sort of über-celebrity is Gustavo Dudamel, though it’s early days to predict whether his tenure at the Los Angeles Philharmonic will permanently change perceptions of that city in the way that Gergiev has done for St. Petersburg. Through a combination of talent, grinding hard work, touring, media appearances, political connections, international partnerships—and a bit of luck—one man has managed to put a big institution at the
Establishing an orchestra’s sound and identity is critically important for any orchestra to thrive and survive, say several people interviewed for this article. According to Carl St.Clair, music director of the Pacific Symphony in California, “If you hear the Mariinsky perform under Gergiev, there’s a definite identity which is connected to their relationship: his conducting of that orchestra and his sound imagery comes through their playing. At the great institutions that we revere, at some point in their history, mostly early in their development, one or two conductors have spent an inordinately long tenure with them, whether it’s Koussevitzky or Szell or Karajan or Haitink or Solti or Ormandy. Even Abravanel—the first Mahler recordings done in America were by Maurice Abravanel and the Utah Symphony.” Such lengthy tenures can yield permanent changes at an orchestra, says Sedgwick Clark, editor of Musical America’s annual directory. At the New York Philharmonic, you can still feel “the excitement of Leonard Bernstein, the imprint of his greatness,” claims Clark. And at the Philadelphia Orchestra, he says, “Between 1912 and 1980, there were two conductors: Leopold Stokowski, and then Eugene Ormandy. There was this famous, rich, sumptuous Philadelphia sound, and it was cultured by Stoki and Ormandy. And it’s still there.” Yannick Nézet-Séguin is mindful of his role in preserving that sound, and the orchestra’s history: “There are these very mysterious and elusive words that I’ve been hearing always: the Philadelphia Sound. I’m still discovering how to unlock, revive, unleash this sound, and when it happens I can even feel that the audience is reacting and saying, ‘Ah! We recognize that sound.’ ” In the case of the Mariinsky, the theater’s origins go back to the days of Catherine the Great, who established an imperial theater company in 1783. Since 1860, the Mariinsky has been known under various names, including the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, the Kirov State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, and the current State Academic Mariinsky Theatre. One of the most important names in the company’s history is Eduard Napravnik, who headed the comsymphony
pany for more than 50 years, from 1863 to 1916. By most accounts, Napravnik’s long tenure was the time when the essential sound of the Mariinsky Orchestra was established—dark, stormy, dramatic, thick strings, heavy brass. By 1917, the Mariinsky was considered one of the leading symphony orchestras in Russia, even Europe. Napravnik presided during a Russian golden age, when the company presented world premieres of works like Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, and Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Sleeping Beauty, and fifth and sixth symphonies. After 1916 came the Revolution and two world wars, and the company cycled through many conductors, including Emil Cooper, Vladimir Dranishnikov, Yevgeny Mravinsky (later principal conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic), and Yuri Temirkanov, Gergiev’s immediate predecessor. And how to describe the sound of the Mariinsky under Gergiev? Well, there’s the ferocity. “Winds were sweet and sour. Strings were a pulsing, vibrating, living sound. The brass raged. The percussion mowed down everything in its path,” wrote Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed, reviewing Prokofiev’s Sixth Symphony. Then there’s the unpredictability—which Gergiev prizes, saying he never likes a piece to be played the same way twice. The New Yorker’s Alex Ross called a Carnegie Hall performance of Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet “refreshingly spontaneous, achieving at times a wonderful wildness: in the scene of the lovers’ deaths, the violins played a descending con-fuoco figure that seemed to rip the air. Alas,” Ross wrote, “such expressive outbursts appeared haphazardly amid stretches of lackluster, even slipshod, playing.” And there’s the last-minute preparation, with stories upon stories of audiences being asked to wait to enter the auditorium a half-hour, an hour, two hours, because the Mariinsky was still rehearsing. But Gergiev thrives on the energy of the last-minute—and stage surprises. One of the most exhilarating moments during opening weekend of Mariinsky II this May was the sudden unannounced appearance onstage of Plácido Domingo, who led the Mariinsky Orchestra’s performance of the Overture to La Forza del Destino during a concert program that lasted until 1 a.m. (He was in town anyway to sing Nabucco—why not?) The audience went berserk, americanorchestras.org
stomping and cheering loudly. At a performance of Maurice Béjart’s Bolero with the Mariinsky Ballet earlier the same day, there was a similarly ecstatic reaction when ballerina legend Maya Plisetskaya entered the auditorium and sat down in the tsar’s box. There is no denying these things can be very exciting. For Gergiev, this “anything might happen tonight” atmosphere seems as important as the music itself. Politics, Inside Russia and Out
With the opening of the new theater, the Mariinsky’s combined annual performances are now expected to increase to 750, of which Gergiev himself will conduct about a tenth. Much of his remaining time— apart from the many guest appearances abroad—will surely be spent politicking and fundraising, areas in which his skills are formidable. Beginning in the 1990s, Gergiev quickly learned to navigate the new political landscape in the chaotic years after the breakup of the Soviet Union—making sure his company stayed funded, even during shortages when many Russian citizens waited in long lines for basic supplies like sugar and bread. By showcasing his singers on international tours, he made sure they supplemented their income with higherpaying performances abroad, while remaining on the Mariinsky roster. He served as principal guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera from 1997 to 2008, allowing him to broaden his base of support and increase the Mariinsky’s reputation around the world. He learned how to raise private funds—the 2006 concert hall in St. Petersburg was financed this way. Gergiev occasionally finds himself taking sides in political situations that can make him unpopular or controversial. He was recently criticized for not taking a public stance defending the rights of gay artists in his country, after President Vladimir Putin signed anti-gay laws this summer, and during the August 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict, he accused the government of Georgia of massacring citizens of South Ossetia. (South Ossetia lies between Russia and Georgia; Gergiev is a native of Vladikavkaz, in North Ossetia.) On the other hand, in 2004 the symbolism seemed just right when, days after the school massacre in the North Ossetian town of Beslan, Gergiev went on Russian television to make a plea that there be no retaliatory attacks
“A man of superior talent… will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place.” ― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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on Muslims. He has a famous supporter in President Putin, a St. Petersburg native known for his interest in sports, not the arts. Two other key names are Alexei Kudrin, former finance minister of Russia, and German Gref, former minister of economic development, now president of Russia’s Sberbank. Longtime friends of Gergiev, both are Mariinsky board members without whom the concert hall and Mariinsky II might not have been completed. In recent years, Gergiev has entered more actively into an institution-building phase at the Mariinsky. Lincoln Center—and the Metropolitan Opera specifically—is a model in many respects. Like the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Gergiev has greatly bolstered his company with the addition of the postgraduate Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers, in 1998, providing for his singers the kind of training they need to succeed internationally. He has dived intensively into making recordings, beginning in the 1990s on the Philips label with Russian repertory staples not well known in the West, such as Prokofiev’s Gambler, Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyud-
Assembled forces at the opening gala of Mariinsky II in St. Petersburg, May 2, 2013.
mila, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh—with top casts including the likes of Olga Borodina, Larissa Dyadkova, Galina Gorchakova, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Vladimir Galouzine. Today, he continues making recordings of operas and orchestral works on the company’s own Mariinsky Live label, including works by Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Wagner,
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Donizetti, and Verdi, with A-level international casts. Still, this is a Russian-style Lincoln Center, a sort of parallel universe in which the artistic director of the Metropolitan Opera also serves as head of the New York Philharmonic—and also conducts the orchestra for the American Ballet Theater or New York City Ballet. Another big difference: at the Mariinsky the level of government support is critically important, while at Lincoln Center it represents a tiny percentage of its funding. Expanded Horizons
In the classical music field, Russia is in some ways like the Western Europe or the U.S. of 50 years ago, with a “high-art” outlook that is reflected in statements by Gergiev. In an August interview in Australian Financial Review, Gergiev expressed Gergiev and Russian President Vladimir Putin tour the Mariinsky II Theatre, May 2013. The $700 million theater was funded by the federal government.
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exasperation over the “never-ending debate about the relevance of classical music today: ‘I don’t feel I need to defend classical music. If you have a good concert, that’s already enough.’ ” Fifty years ago in the U.S. was an optimistic postwar era when many arts organizations were expanding. Now the Mariinsky seems to be at that same point. Gergiev today holds the kind of power music directors had in the last century—think Fritz Reiner in Chicago or George Szell in Cleveland. It is amazing to consider that the expansion that has taken place under Gergiev happened partly during an era of economic uncertainty and chaos in the 1990s, and continued as the world entered an economic recession in the late 2000s. One can speculate endlessly on the point of all this expansion at the Mariinsky, which seems in such striking contrast to many Western classical music organizations, which are focusing efforts on meeting specific needs of their immediate communities. Gergiev is expanding the Mariinsky in multiple directions while maintaining a strong link to its storied past. But because he goes in so many directions, it makes his legacy harder to pin down than, say, the legacy of James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera. Despite the fact that Levine served as not just artistic director but also general director for many years, his primary achievement is musical—not least of which is the Met Orchestra itself, which over time he has shaped into an ensemble considered one of the top in the world. In St. Petersburg, the company Gergiev leads today is bigger, more international, more modern, and he has already left in his wake an impressive library of recordings and two important buildings, as well as a young-artist training program. Mariinsky II means continued international visibility for the company, which can more easily share productions with other companies around the world. Closer to home, Gergiev has said he intends to expand the Mariinsky’s performances in the Russian provinces, and he has spoken passionately about developing a robust music education program for children. The latter is planned soon for Mariinsky II, and a full slate of events is promised for fall 2013, but at press time no specifics had been announced. We shall see. Consider this: Gergiev has headed the Mariinsky only half the length of the Mariinsky’s legendary Napravnik, who was americanorchestras.org
almost exactly the same age, 25, as when Gergiev first became an assistant conductor at the Mariinsky in 1978. The Economist speculated in May that a statue will eventually be raised in his honor, standing between the old imperial theater built by Tsar Alexander II, and the new one built by Gergiev. Gergiev seems happy about where the company is now. The Mariinsky is not the only company to build a new performance space, of course, but speak-
ing this spring, he put the achievement of Mariinsky II in revealing perspective. “Russia is seen very often as a country that maybe thinks but not always deeply, or acts, but not always the right way. The whole world makes big mistakes, Russia included. But the whole world makes good things. Russia included. I swear.” JENNIFER MELICK is managing editor of Symphony.
Each December, Handel’s Messiah is reborn in just about every valley, in the long tradition of its holiday companions The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. After more than 200 years, what does this longrunning work do for audiences—and for orchestras?
Forever and Ever... by Donald Rosenberg
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, led by Marin Alsop, in “Too Hot to Handel: A Gospel Messiah” at Carnegie Hall, November 2010
on’t look now, but virtually everywhere you turn during the holidays Messiah is just around the corner, waiting to deliver a cavalcade of musical wonders. It’s performed by baroque orchestras using period instruments or by symphony orchestras brandishing modern ones. It’s sung by international vocalists and professional choruses or by church soloists and amateur masses eager to raise their voices in glorious Handelian song. Last season’s series of professional Messiahs—there’s no way to get a handle on the avalanche of community performances—included accounts by orchestras in Charleston, Fort Worth, Nashville, Philadelphia, Saginaw Bay, and Tacoma. The 2013 list is equally long, extending from Alabama to Seattle, with the orchessymphony
tras of Milwaukee, New York, and Toronto reaching out most generously with five performances apiece. Messiah can be found in its entirety (three parts, running almost three hours) or cut to proportions more amenable to contemporary attention spans. Performed complete, the work is a luscious banquet of twenty choruses, fifteen arias (some with recitatives), three duets, and two arresting orchestral pieces. However it’s done, Messiah is both magnificent and mutable. Intended for the Lenten season, not Christmas, and first performed in a concert hall, not a church, the world’s most ubiquitous oratorio has avoided being straitjacketed by anything resembling stylistic consistency. No two versions are alike, for which Handel deserves initial responsibility. After the work’s 1742 Dublin premiere, he fiddled with the score almost up to his americanorchestras.org
death in 1759—rewriting, transposing, adding or subtracting arias for different soloists, tightening certain sections, tweaking the orchestration. The poignancy, majesty and immediacy of Handel’s music, not to mention the exhilaration of the famous “Hallelujah” chorus, have made it a creation of almost unparalleled popularity, especially at holiday time. Large or small, unabridged or reduced, presented by pros or the boy next door, performed only by artists onstage or welcoming the public to sing along, the oratorio wields sonic and narrative magnetism that continuously fascinates musicians and listeners. Those charged with bringing
Kyle T. Hemingway Matt Kurkowski
Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society
The Handel and Haydn Society performs the whole work as an annual ritual: three December performances at Boston’s Symphony Hall. “Messiah accounts for about 25 percent of our total ticket revenue,” says Executive Director Marie-Hélène Bernard. “It’s truly an anchor in our season.”
Messiah to life speculate variously about what makes the piece so perennially charismatic. “It’s done so often because it’s popular, and it’s so popular because it’s done so often,” says Nigel Boon, the National Symphony Orchestra’s director of artistic planning. “If I could answer that question, I’d commission a second Messiah.” Others discern distinctive qualities that place the piece far above all potential oratorio competitors. The work “would never have gained such a deeply rooted place in the canon of Western music had it not been a masterpiece of exceeding depth and beauty,” says Ragnar Bohlin, director of the San Francisco Symphony Cho-
note or excerpts? Is it better to rus, who’ll conduct the orchestra’s three rely on Handel’s early scores or Messiah performances this season. “I also use Mozart’s admired arrangethink the broad audience appeal has to do ment—which revises portions with the simplicity and directness with of the music and fills out the which Handel sets the dramatic compilation of Biblical texts by Charles Jennens.” orchestral palette a tad by adding more winds and brasses—or For Jeannette Sorrell, music director of any number of other versions? Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland-based baroque Does a work sometimes grand ensemble, the oratorio “is really a theatriin scale give performcal journey, and I think that’s Martin Pearlman leads a Boston Baroque rehearsal. ers carte blanche to what Handel intended it to be. It The go haywire and turn speaks to everyone, even if you’re Philharmonia lot of versions of it that are originally from it into an extravaganza? To wit: not a Christian. It’s about uni- Baroque [Handel], so you have to make all kinds of During the “Great Handel Fesversal concepts of spirituality.” Orchestra has decisions,” says Pearlman. “His own protival” at London’s Crystal PalIt’s also a work that brings been able to cess is very different from what you might ace in 1857, the oratorio was out the missionary zeal in or- make this “big think of from a composer of today. It’s not presented with 2,000 choristers chestras and choruses. In Bos- bread-andalways a matter of improving a piece. It’s and a 500-member orchestra. In ton, the Handel and Haydn butter piece”— often just a matter of, ‘I have a lousy tenor 1926, at the same location, the Society is domestic champion: as Executive this year, let me rewrite the piece.’ ” piece reigned louder and louder it gave the U.S. premiere of the Other esteemed American period-inwith a chorus of 3,500. complete Messiah in 1818. “Be- Director strument orchestras employ similar personMartin Pearlman, founder ing the oldest in America, we’re Michael Costa nel for Messiah. Apollo’s Fire uses 19 playand music director of the perikind of continuing the tradition calls it—an ers and 22 singers, with the vocal soloists and playing it for people who annual event in od-instrument orchestra Bosalso part of the chorus. The Philharmonia are hearing it for the first time,” recent years by ton Baroque (formerly known Baroque Orchestra, based in Berkeley, says Marie-Hélène Bernard, the being presented as Banchetto Musicale), makes California, fields 26 to 30 players, dependsociety’s executive director and on local series, it a practice to lead uncut pering on hall size, and 24 choristers. Across formances based on the origiCEO. “I say to the musicians, rather than the Bay, Bohlin will lead the San Francisco nal Dublin version for strings, ‘We’re going to be playing Mes- producing the Symphony’s performances this season with siah for people who have never concerts itself. two oboes, two trumpets, tim33 players and about 80 singers. “Davies pani, harpsichord, organ, and heard it before.’ It can make Symphony Hall is very large and demands small vocal forces. The orchespeople fall in love with music.” a certain output,” he says. “We use modtra, which has presented Mesern instruments, but for me the important siah annually since 1981, has Version Control thing is not the instruments, but the way two dozen or so players, and the Before people come under the you play. We’re aiming for an historically chorus 21 members. (Handel’s spell of Messiah, musicians have informed way of phrasing and articulation, original chorus had sixteen boys to figure out how to perform it. although the term is both a bit arbitrary and sixteen men). “There are a Should they present every and a matter of personal taste.” Along with matters of taste is the issue of practicality: how much of Messiah to perform? Only a limited number of orchestras preserve the complete oratorio’s threehour running time, which was an average evening’s entertainment three centuries ago. In San Francisco, Bohlin makes a few cuts in Part II and many in Part III, trimming the performance time to two hours. Like Bohlin, Apollo’s Fire’s Sorrell is mindful of how long listeners are willing to sit, though she preserves most of what Handel wrote. “I don’t want it to be an endurance test,” Sorrell says. “We probably do 95 Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
“It’s done so
the Goossens version “to get a often because the music, advertise the perforpercent of the piece.” At the Handel and different take on the piece.” Haydn Society, which also performs Messiit’s popular, and mances, and set up the stage. Messiah could be viewed as the it’s so popular Not to mention sell the tickets. ah on period instruments, Artistic Director ultimate blank canvas. Several because The voluminous Messiah activHarry Christophers makes “about twelve seasons ago, Pittsburgh Symity in concert halls, theaters, minutes of cuts,” says Bernard. it’s done so phony Music Director Manfred churches, high-school auditoAlso in favor of reasonable Messiah trimoften,” says Honeck led a fully staged Mesriums and the occasional opera ming is James Feddeck, a former assistant Nigel Boon, siah—directed by Sam Helhouse by no means indicate that conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra frich—at Heinz Hall featuring the National the oratorio is a universal genwho’s leading a single Messiah performance scenes on Ellis Island and Jesus Symphony erator of sold-out signs. It isn’t. with the Indianapolis Symphony this seaas a 21st-century illegal immi- Orchestra’s One of the most consisson. “I normally don’t like to do cuts,” says grant. James Oestreich, writing director tent box-office successes is the Feddeck. “I think the composer has a cerin the New York Times, praised of artistic Handel and Haydn Society, tain vision and certain architecture. But in the music-making while tak- planning. “If I which first presented excerpts this case, it’s sort of become a December ing exception to some narrative could answer from Messiah on Christmas Day thing for Christmas and whatnot, so the choices: “In the end the produc- the question in 1815, and now performs the portions that are not directly related to that tion almost converted a skeptic, why, I’d whole work as an annual ritual: may not be applicable.” and that is a Handelian outthree performances in DecemOn the grandiose end of the sonic speccommission come.” Another radical variation ber at Boston’s Symphony Hall. trum this season will be the National Syma second on the piece will be proffered Executive Director Bernard says phony’s performances, for which Rossen Messiah.” this year by the St. Louis Symhouses come close to being full. Milanov will use the gargantuan Eugene phony, which is set to perform “It’s truly an anchor in our seaGoossens orchestration that Thomas Bee“Too Hot to Handel: A Gosson,” she says. “Our budget is cham commissioned and conducted in 1959 pel Messiah,” a version from the roughly $3.5 million. Messiah at the Lucerne Festival and subsequently early 1990s that the Baltimore accounts for about 25 percent of recorded with the Royal Philharmonic OrSymphony brought to Carnour total ticket revenue. Of all chestra. The National Symphony, which has egie Hall in November 2010. Of revenue, from single-ticket revperformed Messiah regularly since 1953, that performance, Steve Smith enue it’s about 42 percent.” had a major success in 2009 when it preopined in the Times: “The idea At the New York Philharsented Goossens’s modern-orchestra pagthat slick big-band riffs and an urbane monic, Messiah draws about 80 percent eant, which includes harp and a barrage of funk beat could sway a modern teenager capacity at Avery Fisher Hall for Tuesdistinctly un-baroque percussion. “It’s kind to Handel seemed like wishful thinking…. day and Wednesday concerts and largely of big in every way,” says the orchestra’s The real triumph was a few hunsells out the rest. The Philharmonic ocBoon. “The enthusiasm is big- The oratorio dred young voices loosed to soar casionally has considered putting Handel ger, the commitment is bigger. “is really a in a hallowed hall.” on the shelf for the holidays and doing It gives players in the orchestra theatrical “something like [Bach’s] Christmas Oratowho don’t play Messiah the oprio or [Berlioz’s] L’enfance du Christ, and portunity to play Messiah. There’s journey, and Eternal Popularity then we look at sales figures [for Messiah] no keyboard of any kind. The tri- I think that’s One reason Handel’s magnum and figure that people want to come,” angle [in ‘For unto us a child is what Handel opus draws crowds, onstage and born’] is the only thing I’d like to intended it off, is that “it’s very singable,” says Artistic Administrator Yim. On the to be,” says other hand, there’s no guarantee of pecunisee go.” says Feddeck. “When Handel ary bliss. “I wouldn’t say we make a lot of The size and shape of Mes- Apollo’s Fire died, all these choral societies money at all,” says Boon at the National siah tends to be determined Music Director were blooming. Even today you Symphony. “We break even.” The Philharby the artistic predilections of Jeannette can go practically to any city and monia Baroque Orchestra, led by Nichoconductors deeply immersed in Sorrell. “It find some Messiah singalong or las McGegan, has been able to make this HIP (historically informed per- speaks to sing-in. They’re far from pol“big bread-and-butter piece”—as Michael formance) or steeped in nineished performances. But they everyone, even Costa, the orchestra’s executive director, teenth- and twentieth-century pack an auditorium and people if you’re not a calls it—an annual event in recent years traditions. The New York Philsing through it. From an amaby being presented on local series, rather harmonic has performed Messi- Christian.” teur choral perspective, I think than producing the concerts itself, which is ah from both perspectives, most that has contributed to the popmore expensive. often using less than half the ularity of the piece.” The San Francisco Symphony began orchestra while the rest of the In whatever form it takes, presenting Messiah in 1925, but the work musicians perform other holiday Messiah calls upon dozens, if became a near-annual tradition only in fare. Edward Yim, the Philharnot hundreds, of players, sing1980 with the opening of the orchestra’s monic’s artistic administrator, ers, and staff people to obtain new home, Davies Symphony Hall. Louisa says he would like to program the score and parts, rehearse americanorchestras.org
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Spier, the symphony’s senior publicist, says the performances “sell to capacity every time. Messiah concerts are an important part of the orchestra’s holiday programming, which this year includes more than 25 performances, including children’s concerts, a New Year’s Eve masquerade ball, and holiday concerts for kids and families.” Sometimes, selling out Messiah doesn’t help the bottom line at all. Apollo’s Fire made two recordings of the work during its first two decades and performed it often until 2005, when Music Director Sorrell opted to alternate holiday years with “Christmas Vespers,” a program of music by Michael Praetorius. Both offerings are wildly popular, and both lose money. Sorrell says Apollo’s Fire schedules Messiah with more than a little trepidation. “For us, it’s extremely expensive to do it, even though we’re selling a zillion tickets,” she says. “We’re bringing in the orchestra from everywhere. Costs are very high when you’ve got the chorus and everyone is paid.” What no one can foresee is how members of the audience will respond when Handel gets around to the little matter known as the “Hallelujah” chorus. The piece that “shall reign forever and ever” is the oratorio’s principal lure, though its position at the far end of Part II keeps listeners waiting a long while before they (usually) rise from their seats in the ostensible tradition of King George II, who may or may not have inspired the practice in the first place. At H&H in Boston, Artistic Director Christophers addresses the issue by taking “a short pause so if those who want to stand can do so before it starts,” says Executive Director Bernard. “I think some people were a little irritated when people were standing and when they sit they can’t see. We haven’t had any controamericanorchestras.org
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performed a fully staged Messiah in 2011, a production directed by Sam Helfrich featuring scenes on Ellis Island and Jesus as a 21st-century immigrant.
versy in recent seasons. We do put an insert in the program titled ‘To stand or not to stand.’ At the end, ’tis their choice.” DONALD ROSENBERG is former music critic of The Plain Dealer and author of The Cleveland Orchestra Story: Second to None. He recently completed a fourth term as president of the Music Critics Association of North America.
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Douglas W. Adams, Breckenridge, CO Elaine Amacker Bridges, San Angelo, TX Tiffany Ammerman, Marshall, TX Nancy Blaugrund, Albuquerque, NM Richard J. Bogomolny, Gates Mills, OH Deborah Borda, Los Angeles, CA Michelle Miller Burns and Gary W. Burns, Chicago, IL • Charles W. Cagle, Franklin, TN Dr. Roland M. Carter, Chattanooga, TN The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Chicago, IL Mrs. Judy Christl, Bonita Springs, FL Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, Dallas, TX Trayton M. Davis, Montclair, NJ Patrick Dirk, Costa Mesa, CA Gloria dePasquale, Narberth, PA Emma E. Dunch and Elizabeth W. Scott, New York, NY • Aaron Dworkin, Detroit, MI Scott Faulkner and Andrea Lenz, Reno, NV Susan Feder and Todd Gordon, Irvington, NY Michele and John Forsyte, Santa Ana, CA • David V. Foster, New York, NY Edward Gardner, Rye, NY
Joseph B. Glossberg and Madeleine Condit Glossberg, Chicago, IL Jay Golan, New York, NY Michael S. Gordon, Newport Beach, CA Dietrich M. Gross, Wilmette, IL Mark and Christina Hanson, Milwaukee, WI • Daniel and Barbara Hart, Buffalo, NY • Ian Harwood, Chicago, IL • Howard Herring, Miami Beach, FL Dr. and Mrs. Claire Fox Hillard, Albany, GA Mr. Michael J. Horvitz, New York, NY Laura Hyde, Tyler, TX The Jurenko Foundation, Huntsville, AL Polly Kahn, New York, NY Theresa Khawly, New York, NY R. Lawrence Kirkegaard, Chicago, IL Peter T. Kjome, Grand Rapids, MI Mr. Robert Kohl, Chicago, IL JoAnne Krause, Brookfield, WI Judith Kurnick, Houston, TX Robert and Emily Levine, Glendale, WI Christopher and Margo Light, Kalamazoo, MI * † Helen Lodge, Charleston, WV Alex Machaskee, Cleveland, OH Dr. Gordon and Mrs. Carole Mallett, Zionsville, IN Lois Margolin, Denver, CO Virginia C. Mars, McClean, VA Steve and Lou Mason, Dayton, OH † Mattlin Foundation, Columbus, OH Alan McIntyre, Darien, CT Debbie McKinney, Nichols Hills, OK Paul Meecham, Baltimore, MD Zarin Mehta, New York, NY LaDonna Meinders, Oklahoma City, OK David Alan Miller, Albany, NY Steven Monder, Cincinnati, OH † Michael Morgan, Oakland, CA Diane and Robert Moss, Key Biscayne, FL Mrs. Patricia Moye, Evans, GA James B. Nicholson, Detroit, MI Aaron J. Nurick, Boston, MA John Palmer, Tucson, AZ Christina Parker, Fort Myers, FL Anne H. Parsons, Detroit, MI • Michael Pastreich, St. Petersburg, FL Robert A. Peiser, Houston, TX Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin, Gates Mills, OH Mr. and Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin, Jr., Mayfield Heights, OH Peggy and Al Richardson, Erie, PA Melody Sawyer Richardson, Cincinnati, OH Susan L. Robinson, Sarasota, FL Robert and Barbara Rosoff, Queensbury, NY americanorchestras.org
Don Roth, Davis, CA *† Deborah F. Rutter, Chicago, IL † Roger Saydack and Elaine Bernat, Eugene, OR † Jo Ellen Saylor, Edina, MN Fred and Gloria Sewell, Minneapolis, MN Jay Shah, Chicago, IL Ms. Rita Shapiro, Washington, DC Mr. Richard P. Simmons, Sewickley, PA Tom and Dee Stegman, Cincinnati, OH David Tierno, Princeton, NJ Marylou L. Turner, Kansas City, MO Matthew VanBesien and Rosie Jowitt, New York, NY • Allison Vulgamore, Philadelphia, PA • Tina Ward, Saint Louis, MO • Pam Weaver, Greer, SC Linda Weisbruch, Charlotte, NC Sonia Wilson, Austin, TX Doug Witte, Tyler, TX Simon Woods and Karin Brookes, Seattle, WA Patron ($600 – $999) Ayden Adler, Miami Beach, FL Lois H. Allen, Columbus, OH Gene and Mary Arner, Boise, ID Sandra Sue Ashby, Jacksonville, FL Dr. Richard and Mrs. Janet Barb, Indianapolis, IN Mr. Robert A. Birman, Prospect, KY David Bornemann, Scottsdale. AZ James William Boyd, New Orleans, LA Wayne S. Brown and Brenda E. Kee, Washington, D.C. Katherine Carleton, Toronto, ON, Canada Ms. Katy Clark, New York, NY • Dawn Fazli, Indianapolis, IN Mrs. Charles Fleishmann, Cinicinnati, OH Henry and Fran Fogel, River Forest, IL † Karen Gahl-Mills and Laurence Mills-Gahl, Cleveland Heights, OH Mr. Kareem A. George, Franklin, MI • Gary Ginstling and Marta Lederer, Shaker Heights, OH Gary L. Good, Santa Ana, CA Mr. André Gremillet, Melbourne, Australia Marilyn P. and Joseph W. Hirschhorn Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Cincinnati, OH Holly H. Hudak, Chicago, IL Mrs. Rhonda P. Hunsinger, Lexington, SC Ms. Helena Jackson, Duluth, MN Andrea Laguni, Los Angeles, CA Carolyn and Wayne Landsverk, Portland, OR Stephen Lisner, New York, NY David Loebel, Lebanon, NH J.L. Nave, III and Paul Cook, Fort Wayne, IN •
helen m. thompson heritage society The League of American Orchestras graciously recognizes those who have remembered the League in their estate plans as members of the Helen M. Thompson Heritage Society. W. Curtis Livingston, co-chair, Nantucket, MA Nina C. Masek, co-chair, Sonoita, AZ Janet F. and Dr. Richard E. Barb Family Foundation, Indianapolis, IN Wayne S. Brown and Brenda E. Kee, Washington, DC John and Janet Canning, Westport, CT Richard and Kay Fredericks Cisek, North Oaks, MN Martha and Herman Copen Fund, Mt. Carmel, CT Myra Janco Daniels, Naples, FL Samuel C. Dixon, Morrow, GA Henry and Frances Fogel, Chicago, IL Susan Harris, Ph.D., Ann Arbor, MI Steve and Lou Mason, Dayton, OH Lowell and Sonja Noteboom, Minnetonka, MN Charles and Barbara Olton, New York, NY Peter Pastreich, San Francisco, CA Rodger E. Pitcairn, Rockville, MD Robert and Barbara Rosoff, Glens Falls, NY Robert J. Wagner, Maplewood, NJ Tina Ward, Saint Louis, MO Mr. and Mrs. Albert K. Webster, New York, NY Robert Wood Revocable Trust, Grover Beach, CA Anonymous (1) Brian A. Ritter, Albany, NY Dr. Stanley E. Romanstein, Atlanta, GA Jim and Grace Seitz, Naples, FL Richard L. Sias, Oklahoma City, OK David Snead, New York, NY Melia Tourangeau, Salt Lake City, UT Dr. Jane Van Dyk, Billings, MT Gus Vratsinas, Little Rock, AR Robert J. Wagner, Boonton, NJ Edward Walker, Oklahoma City, OK Mr. Paul R. Winberg, Chicago, IL Rebecca and David Worters, Raleigh, NC
* Charter Member † Directors Council (former League Board) • Orchestra Management Fellowship Program Alumni + Includes Corporate Matching Gift ‡ In-Kind Donation
Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist, singer, and composer Esperanza Spalding doesn’t so much blend genres as defy them. She is also building significant pedigree with orchestras. Here she talks about genre, appealing to diverse audiences, and hearing her songs in a new setting.
more modern demographic. That to me is ne of the things that I think don’t like what we’re doing.” If I’m playing a brave and profound way to invite more turns people off the most my repertoire, then you’re not introducing people to the symphony. to any genre, philosophy, people to the repertoire you want them to I don’t recall how exactly the idea area of study, or mode of hear. They’re coming to see me, or they’re came up for me to participate with the expression is when it comes coming to see Alicia Keys. It’s a big quesPhiladelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall’s along with lots of preconceived notions of tion and it’s often asked because there’s opening night this fall. what everything else is. So I’d always played in youth when I hear people saying, orchestras on violin, but “This is R&B, this is jazz, then I switched to bass this is classical”—get over and got a scholarship to it! If someone really wants Portland State University. to listen, they’re going to That was the last time I explore it in their own way. played in an orchestra. In Nobody has dibs on the April I had the luxury of basic theory of relationships playing Wayne Shorter’s between notes and new concerto at the intervals and how certain Nashville Symphony, but orchestration effects work. this fall is the first time I never think, “I’m going that my own composito mix R&B with jazz and tions have been expanded then I will add a sprinkling for the orchestra. I don’t of classical on the top.” I know if it works or not, really love great music, and Esperanza Spalding in performance with her Radio Music Society band at but part of the function it’s all over the place. The Tanglewood Music Center, August 4, 2013. that art serves is explorawhole world of music is so tion. It’s a matter of curiosity for me to unfathomably large and diverse, and every this genuine love, this feeling of, “If more experience the music on that level and single mode of expression is valuable. people could hear this they would hear the how it changes the way I perform, the I would reckon that if there’s a way for beauty and the power.” I understand that. way that I interpret the music and the a larger audience, younger audience—all I think that’s the spirit through which you stories behind the songs. Ultimately I the demographics who happen to fall into try to bring new people to the listenthink it’s going to be a really exciting and the category of “people who don’t come ing experience. Let’s connect with the invigorating format through which to to the symphony”—if everyone had more modern composers out there who have reach people with my music. I genuinely opportunities to hear the music, it would mastered the tools and the vernacular of hope that the people in the room listenbe exciting for them, because it is! I don’t the symphony, the ones composing music ing and the players on the stage also get think it’s respectful to the listener to say, that incorporates the current events of to experience that—that sense of explora“We’re going to figure out how to bring the last 30 or 40 years, so that when their tion and exclamation! in something that you like, because you piece is played it’s going to speak to a
“Ronnie Kole is the artist who possesses real swinging soul and heart. That's why we invite him again and again. His concerts are a pleasure for the audience, orchestra and c o n d u c t o r, a n d I w o u l d s t r o n g l y r e c o m m e n d e v e r y b o d y t a k e advantage of working with this wonderful musician.” Dmitri Liss…Conductor… Ural Philharmonic Orchestra…Russia
“Ronnie Kole is a true entertainer who knows exactly how to please a crowd. His powerful piano playing, lush arrangements and winning personality had the audience on its feet.” Scott Speck…Music Director… M o b i l e , We s t S h o r e S y m p h o n y a n d C h i c a g o P h i l h a r m o n i c O r c h e s t r a s " R o n n i e K o l e c o m e s o u t o n s t a g e a n d P O W, t h e a u d i e n c e r e a l i z e s t h e y are in for something completely different. He was an absolute hit with Ta i p e i a u d i e n c e s w i t h h i s t h r i l l i n g j a z z a r r a n g e m e n t s a n d w a r m a n d f u n n y c o m m e n t a r y. T h e y ' d n e v e r e x p e r i e n c e d a n y t h i n g l i k e i t . " John van Deursen…Conductor… Ta i p e i P h i l h a r m o n i c P o p s O r c h e s t r a
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Published on Oct 23, 2013